|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.|
Part 2Tao plunged into the small pool located in the middle of Sanctuary--a safe haven for the Sula tigers. Dar had made this place his home since the loss of his tribe when he was a young boy. The cool water broke the magical spell. Tao splashed around frantically, but quickly reached the edge and surveyed his predicament. Sure enough, he was back home…but how? Kodo and Podo swam to the pool's edge and climbed out, shaking their skinny bodies free of the water. "Dar?" Tao didn’t see any sign of his friend, only his staff weapon lying nearby. It had to be sorcery. He dragged himself out of the water and tried to squeeze the excess water from his clothes. Dripping wet, he searched the cave, hoping to find Dar. "Dar?"
Suddenly, a tiger entered the clearing from the surrounding trees. It stopped, lifted its head and sniffed the area. "Ruh!" Tao blurted. "Boy, am I glad to see you. So much has happened. Where have you been?" The tiger snarled and sneezed at the same time in response to Tao's greeting. Unsettled that his human friend was nowhere to be seen, Ruh called to Sharak.
"Dar's not here…he’s in trouble; we have to find him." Tao stopped conversing with the tiger when he realized he was talking to him as though he could understand. He knew animals had a more acute sense of perception than mankind. Hopefully, Ruh would sense his edginess was due to his concern for Dar’s whereabouts. "Why do I keep talking to you as if you know what I’m saying? Well, you're the only one I can turn to right now. Besides, there may be a chance you understand. I believe the Sorceress has taken advantage of Dar's loss of memory. She had to have taken him." He stopped, puzzled by the whole ordeal. "For some reason she saved me from the Terrons. Of that, I am grateful."
Ruh's questions were answered, not by Tao, but by Sharak. The eagle communicated telepathically to the tiger informing him where Dar had been taken. Ruh turned to leave the camp, looked back at Tao, growled and then moved towards one of the trails. He stopped and looked back again.
It finally registered to Tao that the tiger wanted him to follow. "Wait! You understood what I was saying! Wait for me!" He called for Kodo and Podo, but the tiger had beaten him to it. Both ferrets scrambled into the pouch, ready to rescue Dar. Tao snatched up the pouch. "Good boys, at least you're learning to behave." With no time to spare, the clumsy man started after the tiger, tripping over Dar's staff weapon. He quickly jumped back to his feet. "Don't worry, Dar, your friends are on their way!" Collecting his wits, Tao scuttled into the woods.
Below the Sorceress’ dwelling, the Terron village buzzed with activity. One of King Zad’s hunting parties, led by a Terron named Koth, returned with captured slaves from a nearby land bordering the Territories. Amongst the terrified captors was a young woman full of spitfire. Zad examined the prize more closely.
She was clad in a simple woven dress and plain sandals. Her reddish hair attracted the king. Zad removed his black cloak as he spoke, "What’s your name, my lovely?" The late afternoon sun now toasted his body as it beat off his bald head.
"Cimma," she answered, looking him directly in the eyes. Her eyes studied the scars on his face and then drifted downwards until they came to rest upon the skull and bones decorating his breastplate. She feared him. His reputation as a murderous king was well known amongst her tribe.
"I’ll take this one for myself." Zad laughed at his sinful thoughts and then addressed his warriors, "Koth, you may have your pick of the litter next. The rest of your men can fight over the rest. Those who aren’t selected…kill them." The evil king chose his words carefully so he could observe the reactions of his latest concubine.
She didn’t give him the satisfaction of showing her true feelings and stared straight ahead, fighting the urge to cry.
King Zad ordered her to be taken away, promising to visit later. He whipped around as more Terrons rode into camp--this party appeared empty handed. "What’s this, Ratax? Where are my slaves? Where are my treasures?" he demanded. Zad circled the men now dismounting their horses.
"My lord," the Terron warrior replied. "I almost had the greatest prize of all in my clutches…the Beastmaster’s head." Like his king, a myriad collection of bones attached to the skins he wore indicated that he, too, was a great warrior.
"I see he managed to evade you." Zad approached Ratax and stood only inches away, poring over the man to see if he was lying.
"He was cowering for his life and just as I was ready to finish him, the Sorceress appeared and took him. She took his slave as well."
Zad scrutinized the other men…they all seemed to be in agreement. "Well, if the Sorceress has the Beastmaster, then I’ll demand she give him to me. If you’re lying, Ratax…I’d run far from here if I were you." Zad’s bloodthirsty smile broadened as he gazed up the mountain jutting towards the sky. He always enjoyed paying the Sorceress a visit.
Dar couldn't move. Confined within the supernatural material, he felt cold. He opened his eyes to discover he was standing upright, surrounded by a crystal fiber that instantly dissolved into nothingness. Once free of his prison, he spun around, marveling at the peculiar cave. Someone lived here by the looks of the crystal basin in the center and several lit torches aligning the walls. He turned towards the light at the entrance.
The silhouette of a tall woman blocked the opening. Dressed in a blue gown that accentuated her voluptuous shape, the Sorceress moved closer stirring the mist coursing through the cavern. The fabric glistened as she stepped into the light.
"Are you an angel?"
The Sorceress couldn't help but giggle. "No, just a friend."
"You're my friend?" he asked. He concluded his friends were definitely getting better looking. "Have you seen my other friend? His name is Tao."
"He's safe…I've sent him home. It's you I want to talk with." She stood in front of him, her stance almost as tall as his. Seductively, she nuzzled the Beastmaster’s chin with her nose, then brushed her lips close to his.
Dar found her provocative. The curls of her long blonde mane softened her appearance. He also liked her smell. His knees weakened as she traced her finger down his chest and across his firm abdomen. He needed answers. "Do I know you? Are you my woman?"
A pleasing smile highlighted her face. His gullibility attracted her. "I'm your friend, Beastmaster." Taken aback, Dar moved away from her. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"Those men--the Terrons--they called me by that name and they were no friends."
"I'm sorry... Dar," the Sorceress cooed. Even with his memories lost, the Beastmaster seemed hesitant to trust her. "I saved the lives of you and your friend, Tao. All I ask in return is one small favor."
Dar relaxed somewhat. One small favor didn't seem like much to ask. After all, she saved them from the Terrons. "What is it?"
"Tell me your secret. How do you communicate with the animals?"
Dar wrinkled his brow. "What?
She leaned closer and purred softly in his ear, "Your gift…how are you able to talk with the animals? I'd be very pleased to learn."
Wisps of her long hair tickled his neck and he smiled. The smile faded. "Someone else is here. I heard him call me."
"I assure you we are alone, Beast… Dar," she corrected herself. The Sorceress surveyed the chamber expecting to find the Ancient One, but there was no trace of him. However, she thought she saw a shadow near the entrance.
Concerned for Dar's well being, both Sharak and Ruh communicated to their human friend. Dar covered his ears and fell to his knees. "Stop it…make the voices stop!"
With a wave of her hand, the crystal imprisonment formed a barrier around the Beastmaster. In this state, he would be free of what was torturing him. Her curious nature drew the Sorceress towards the cavern's entrance. Perched upon the outer crystal basin, the Beastmaster's eagle cocked his head as she approached. "Sharak, I mean him no harm. In fact, I saved his life. Can you understand me?" Silently, the bird stared back. "The voices Dar heard were yours as well as his other animal friends. I'm sure you're all concerned. Without his memories, he doesn't know he can communicate with you. Wait here…don't leave." The hope in her voice that she may be able to talk with Sharak via the Beastmaster resonated throughout the cave. She returned to the kneeling man encased within her spell. Another twirl of her hand and the fibers released their hold.
Dar's eyes traced up the Sorceress' body as he stood to his feet. "What happened? Whose voices did I hear?" He felt unsettled by all the strange events that were happening to him. Why couldn’t he remember anything?
"Come with me, Dar. Another friend of yours is here. His name is Sharak." She led him to the opening where the magnificent bird lingered.
Awed by its noble nature, Dar eyed the eagle carefully as they neared the cave's entrance. He stopped short when he felt the sudden rush inside his head. "He spoke to me…"
The Sorceress smiled. "Only you can communicate with him. What is he saying?"
Sharak understood his friend's injury, so he transmitted his telepathic words slowly to the Beastmaster. "He says my ability to communicate with the animals is a gift. It cannot be taken away except by the one who gave it to me." Dar paused, absorbed more and conveyed it to the Sorceress. "He also says that if you've ever loved him, you would help me…help me to remember."
The Sorceress marveled at how easily the Beastmaster could communicate with the man she once loved. She envied his gift.
"He also asks that you send me safely back to Sanctuary."
The feelings that moved her now had been forbidden by the Ancient One. The last time she and Sharak had crossed that line, they were severely punished. She dared not push her luck. In time, she'd find a way to be with Sharak again. The Sorceress moved closer to Dar. "Tell him I'll do what he asks." Her smile was tender, not wicked as it sometimes appeared.
Dar stared at the bird, focused hard with his eyes and tried to force something. "Nothing's happening--he didn't respond." Dar looked at her with such innocence, surely not the same man who didn't trust her. "I’m sorry, I don't know how to talk to him without speaking."
She reached for a small flask in the pocket of her gown, opened it and poured the powdery contents into her palm. As her fingers passed over it, the powder sparkled. "Memories are never lost…only misplaced or hidden. This will draw your memories to the surface." The Sorceress gently blew the powder into Dar's face. He sneezed. An onslaught of memories crammed his head and he swayed to catch his balance. As soon as he realized whose company he was in, he reached for his staff weapon only to find it missing. Dar stepped back. Sharak’s voice soothed his troubled mind, letting him know that he was in no danger. Without taking his eyes off the Sorceress, he moved closer towards the exit.
"Beastmaster, I'm not going to hurt you. In fact, I’ve helped you. I saved you from the Terrons and have now returned your memories. All I ask it that you relay a message to Sharak for me."
"Memories? Where's Tao? Where am I? What kind of game are you playing now?" Dar battered out the questions, confused because one moment he was falling out of a tree and, the next, he was in a cave somewhere with Sharak and the Sorceress.
She preferred him without his memories…he now reminded her of a jittery rabbit. "Your gangly friend is safe at home, which is where I plan to send you when you do as I ask. Tell Sharak I did this for him. He'll understand the message. Trust me."
"Never. I'll never trust you, not after what you've taken from me. I want nothing to do with your dark magic and neither does Sharak."
"I think you should let Sharak be the judge of his own wants and needs." The anger inside drove her to clench her fists, the long nails nearly piercing her own flesh. The man was definitely stubborn. "You're not going to grant me this one small request, are you?"
Dar stared straight in her face and replied, "No."
Infuriated by his tenacity, the Sorceress flung both hands in the air. Her spell changed the Beastmaster into a small bird. "Fly home little one before I change my mind." The little bird took off out of the cave's entrance. Sharak spread his wings, cawed and flew after the bird. The Sorceress watched them fade into the distance, her heart heavy with a sorrowful longing.
"Pity the Beastmaster wouldn't relay a message to your precious Sharak," the Ancient One taunted as he abruptly appeared behind her.
"You needn't gloat," she snapped. He picked a bad time to visit; she wasn't in the mood.
"He has the manners of his beasts...not even a thank you… Why you should--"
"Sorceress!" King Zad shouted as he approached the entrance.
"Impeccable timing as always," the older wizard noted as he vanished from view.
Zad marched inside and stopped when he saw the Sorceress standing alone. Her beauty usually struck him hard, but not this time…he was committed to his cause. "Where is he? Where is the Beastmaster? I demand you hand him over to me!"
"If this is your way of charming me, I'm afraid it's not working." She turned her back on him and smiled mischievously to herself. A visit from the Terron king was always entertaining and her spirits needed to be lifted. "Why would you assume the Beastmaster is here, King Zad?"
"Do you deny it? My men claim you robbed them of the pleasure of killing the Beastmaster and his slave. His head would have been mine!"
"Why do you want him?"
"We have unfinished business, he and I."
"Killing him won’t resolve your problems. Besides, I'm afraid he's no longer a threat to you." She stopped and wondered why she was protecting the Beastmaster from Zad…perhaps to appease Sharak.
"He's never been a threat to me!" Zad insisted. "Why? Have you done something to him?"
The Sorceress turned to face the Terron king. "He’s completely helpless. In truth, I prefer him this way…I even admire his innocence. As of now, he’s no match for you." She wasn’t lying…the Beastmaster was a helpless bird at the moment.
Zad’s twisted mind mulled over her words and the way she spoke them. "You find him more pleasing…don’t you? Granted he’s younger…his physique…well, different than mine, but I’m just as strong, just as vibrant and just as handsome."
His visit was proving to be very amusing. She laughed at his suggestion. Zad continued to compare himself with the Beastmaster, "He’s nothing. He has no kingdom, except for the beasts he rules. He has no treasures, no power..."
"No memories…" the Sorceress interrupted.
"What are you talking about?"
She decided to play him along, bored of his demands. "He suffered an injury, which left him with no memories. He lost the knowledge of his fighting skills, so your men nearly killed him. I intervened. While he was here, I found he couldn't even communicate with his animal friends. The Beastmaster didn't know who he was, so I let him go." She made sure her words were in the past tense...no need to tell Zad she cured him.
"You witch! He was mine, I tell you!" Zad hollered without thinking. The infuriated king hated when things didn’t go his way.
"Witch?" she curiously repeated, her tone a bit disquieted. The Sorceress calmed down when she heard the Ancient One's soft chortles. She started chuckling herself.
Zad didn't know what to make of her good nature. He took it the wrong way. "You're playing games with me. Give me the Beastmaster now or so help me I’ll--" He raised his hand, ready to strike when he froze, trapped within her spell.
"So help you what?" she mocked as she encircled the arrogant man. "Can you believe the audacity of this mortal?"
The Ancient One emerged into sight. "I surely wouldn’t let this go without punishing him." He walked towards the opening of the cave and continued talking as he vanished into thin air. "I'll let you ponder on how he should be reprimanded. Be creative, my dear. Make your teacher proud."
"A creative punishment…hmmm," she murmured.
* * * * *
Tao wasn't positive, but he swore the hollow log he'd just passed was the same one located near the camp. The only thing, it had been on the left-hand side instead of the right. "Ruh? Are you going in circles? No, if we were traveling in circles, the log would still be on the right." He quickly put two-and-two together. "We're going back to the camp. Why?"
The tiger had started backtracking the moment Sharak informed him of Dar's release from the Sorceress. Ruh picked up his pace and headed towards the Sanctuary. "Wait! Do you know something I don't? Of course you do!" Tao chased after Ruh and finally made it to the clearing. He heard Sharak screeching high above. Ruh stood above Dar’s body, smelling his hair. The Beastmaster was laying face down, completely nude. Satisfied his friend was okay, Ruh parted ways.
Tao ran to his side and fell on his knees. "Dar? Please be alive…" He rolled him over to find his friend breathing heavily.
Dar opened his eyes. "Tao? I…made it," he said panting between breaths. "I was flying."
Tao smiled, relieved Dar was all right. "That was Sharak speaking to you again."
"No…I was really flying. I was a bird. It was so…" Dar never finished his sentence, exhaustion overwhelmed him and he fell into a deep sleep.
"Not only have you lost your memories…now you've lost your mind." Tao knew he should move him inside the cave so he could sleep peacefully. "You'll need your rest. We have a long journey tomorrow. I'm taking you to see the Shaman."
* * * * *
Still imprisoned by the supernatural spell, Zad remained immobilized. The Sorceress stood off to the side by her crystal basin, mixing a potion. She had plenty of time to brood over the king’s foolhardy demands and the Beastmaster’s disrespectful behavior. Irritated by the Beastmaster's unwillingness to communicate with Sharak drove her to believe he deserved a rightful punishment as well. She had been smiling contently since she thought of the perfect deed.
"Back home with you," she commanded. With a whisk of her hand, Zad disappeared. The Sorceress strolled to the entrance of the cave and stared at the stars. She threw the contents of the container into the air. "Sweet dreams, Beastmaster. Sleep restful, King Zad. For when you awaken you'll both be living your worst nightmare."
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My Fanfic is based on the BeastMaster: The Legend Continues Series
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