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Disclaimer: The characters and story are based on the series BeastMaster: The Legend Continues  are property of Tribune Entertainment Company. There is no intent to infringe on their rights, this is only for pure enjoyment.

Showers of Fortune
(September List challenge)

by Laurie Allen

"I don’t know what's wrong…it shouldn't be reacting this way," the Sorceress complained while pacing back and forth.  Her robe of lavender taffeta, covering a honey colored undergarment, whirled buoyantly every time she twirled.  She stopped and turned to face the Ancient One, hands grasping her amethyst pedestal.

 Her teacher marveled at how a simple hue could alter one's appearance.  "You look radiant, my dear, especially when you're upset.  A ray of sunshine on such a dismal day.  What seems to be the problem?"  He glanced down at his rainbow-tainted cloak wondering if it appeared too gaudy.  His eyes returned to her beauty--she remained stunning even when she narrowed her eyes, confused by his lack of concern.

 "That's just it…it's the weather.  The monsoons aren't due for several months and yet this never-ending storm bears down upon us.”  The Sorceress’ angered look turned to worried.  “I think I've created the storm from a spell of mine—one that seems to have backfired."

 "Oh, I delight in spells that backfire.  Do tell," the Ancient One urged, grinning mischievously, "and don't leave a single detail out."

 "You're incorrigible!" she snapped.  Needing his wisdom to solve the riddle, she had to appease his curiosity.  "Two days ago I was gazing into my crystal basin observing the Beastmaster when—"

 "The Beastmaster?  Don't you ever grow tired of watching him?" he interrupted.

 "Well, I must say he's not discomforting to the eyes."  She smiled coyly.  "Where was I?  Oh yes, I was watching the Beastmaster and his Eiron friend when King Zad paid a visit…"

 "Sorceress?  Ah good, you're here.  I have a favor to ask."  The bald king approached her with care for he didn't want to hurt her feelings with his request.  He admired her beauty but mostly her power and felt she fancied his attentions; however, since she insisted that nothing could ever come between mortals and immortals, he gave up the pursuit and moved on.  "Have you heard of the Ayribions bordering the west?"  She nodded in response to his question, waiting for him to continue.  "The old goat's pledged me his daughter in hopes of strengthening our relations.  I hear the princess is magnificent and her beauty breathtaking.  I've also heard she is a spitfire—the perfect woman to be my queen."

 "A wife?" the Sorceress asked with a giggle.  "It sounds like you have everything under control, King Zad.  What favor could I possibly grant you?"

 Zad looked suspiciously around as if the walls had ears.  He moved closer to the crystal basin and whispered, "I’m lonely.  I really would like to marry soon…raise an heir.  So, to be in favor with these people, I want to shower them with good fortune for offering me such a prize.  I hear the princess is eager to meet me."

 "Consider your wish a wedding gift then,” the Sorceress offered while retrieving a dove.  She stood in front of the crystal basin, Zad behind.  He seemed preoccupied when she spoke the words, “Unseen moisture lingering above, gather together within the wings of this dove, and shower the receiver with good fortune aplenty, until released unto those he beholds so worthy.”  She tossed the dove in the air and it burst into glimmering lights that slowly faded as they sprinkled over the Terron King.     

 …the Sorceress looked to her mentor.  “It was an easy spell to cast, but something went astray.  Once the king left the rains started.  It's been pouring ever since.  He leaves today to meet with the Ayribions."

 The Ancient One moved closer to the crystal pedestal and as he passed his hand over the basin the image of the Terron camp came into view.  Zad, irritated and drenched from the continuous downpour, informed his men he would return in a few days.  Four warriors rode off with him towards the west.  Shortly after his departure, the Sorceress and the Ancient One noticed the rain outside the cave had started to dissipate.  The storm was following Zad.

 The clearing weather confirmed the Sorceress' belief that her spell somehow backfired.  "I showered him with rain instead of good fortune."

 "It does put a damper on things, doesn't it?"  The wizard cringed when he received a warning glance from eyes that couldn't bear to hear any of his quips.  Unable to resist another pun, he added, "My dear, perhaps you're ill.  Do you have a fever?  Casting a spell while one is under the weather…"

 *****

Dar's choreography--unifying weapon with defensive moves--fascinated the Eiron scholar.  Tao watched in admiration as the Beastmaster spun the six-foot staff preparing to strike his opponent and at the same time twisting his body out of harms way.  The last thief went down with a thud.  Tao released his breath and ran towards his friend.  "Dar!  Are you all right?  You had me worried when he clobbered you.”

 "Yes, Tao, I'm fine.”

 “Did you see the one coming after me?  He tripped and knocked himself out.  Talk about being clumsy.”

 “We should keep moving.  It won’t be long before these men come to."  Dar wiped blood from his cut lip.  Just touching it made him wince.  "Why would thieves attack us, we have nothing to steal."  Dar started down the trail they had been traveling without waiting for his friend.

 "Except our food and clothes," Tao replied.  He soon corrected himself, "Well, my clothes..."  Who would possibly want to steal Dar's loincloth?  Tao wondered how the Beastmaster stayed warm with what little he wore.  He then checked on the two ferrets tucked safely away in the pouch he carried.  "Maybe those men are hunters and they wanted your furs."  He enjoyed teasing Kodo and Podo, payback for all the times they bit him.  The two furry rascals squealed an unpleasant sound at his remark and kept low in the bag in case the Eiron was correct in his assumption.  Something shiny in the grass caught Tao’s attention.  He picked it up and held the large gem against the sun.  Dar was farther ahead so Tao sprinted to catch up.  “Dar, look what I found.  I can’t believe my luck lately--first, that brute tripped and now this.  Dar!”

 The Beastmaster stopped in the clearing ahead not because of his friend’s calls but from the storm looming across the way.  The small dark cloud appeared threatening, unnatural against an otherwise clear sky.  Tao slowed until he stood by his friend's side.  News of the shiny stone he found would have to wait.  He dropped it into Kodo and Podo’s pouch.  "That doesn't look friendly."

 Dar blinked and answered, "No, it doesn't.  Maybe we should change course."  Sharak shrieked to get the Beastmaster's attention. 

 Tao waited as the eagle soaring above communicated with his friend.  When it looked as though the link between them broke, Tao asked, "Are we in danger?"

 "Not from the rainstorm, Terrons are approaching."

 "Terrons?"  Tao wasn't thrilled with the odds—Terrons in front of them and thieves behind.  "What'll we do?"

 "This way," Dar suggested as he raced across the field.  Tao wasn’t far behind when he heard the torrential rain beat against the dry earth.  He and Dar were instantly drenched and Tao’s soaked clothes became burdensome.   Soon they heard the pounding hooves of galloping horses above the downpour as they closed in.  No match for Terrons on horseback, both the Beastmaster and his sidekick stopped at the edge of a steep hill.  Below them were the Wastelands, a vast desert of sand dunes—home of the Ayribions.  Dar turned to confront the warriors.  Through the blinding rain, he recognized Zad amongst the five riders.

 The king jumped off his horse and approached the duo.  Zad shouted over the rain, “Our paths cross yet again--coincidence or fate?  I have no quarrel with you, Beastmaster, but since you’re here, I require the services of your Eiron slave.  Hand him over and no harm will come to you.”

 “I’m a free man!” Tao protested.

 The Terron warriors on horseback became concerned when their horses sensed danger and backed away from the others.  “Get them!” the king ordered his men, wondering why they were retreating instead.

 Dar reached for his weapon preparing to unsheathe the two-piece staff, but the ground beneath him loosened.  Tao felt it too and easily lost his balance.  Saturated with the driving rains, the soil became mud and gave way, flowing down the hillside like a river, taking Dar, Tao and Zad with it.

 Dar slid down the steep slope feet first, plowing through the mudflow.  Able to retrieve his disassembled staff, he jabbed both pieces into the ground hoping to anchor his fall.  The blade end began to slow his descent until Tao crashed into him propelling Dar into full motion again.  The Eiron had been hollering since the top of the hill, unable to control his spinning.  Not too far behind, Zad bellowed for his warriors to help, but to no avail—the Terrons stayed back from the vanishing edge, amazed that the rains had finally begun to subside as their king slipped further away.  In a matter of minutes the trio reached the bottom.  Dar glided to a halt as the ground leveled.  Covered in mud from head to toe he rolled aside just as Tao touched down.

 “Ahh!” Tao exclaimed as he spit out a mouthful of gritty sludge.  Rattled, Kodo and Podo escaped from their pouch and scrambled away as soon as they caught sight of the forthcoming collision.  Dar was just about to warn Tao of the onslaught, but something odd happened.  In midstream, Zad’s body took a turn and slammed into the Beastmaster, cushioning the king’s landing.  Struggling to get up, Zad’s elbow banged Dar’s temple.  Battered and bruised, the Beastmaster succumbed to unconsciousness.

 Zad’s attempt to stand failed, slipping and sliding in the mud as he tried.  Kodo had latched onto his leg in hopes of getting out of the wet muck.  “Get this rodent off me!” the king growled, shaking his leg until the ferret scattered away.  When Zad finally stood, he rinsed himself in the rains that continued to fall.  Spread eagle, the mud ran off his robe dripping onto the Beastmaster below.  Zad appreciated the weather for once.  Feeling human again, he suddenly realized someone coughing.  He offered his hand and yanked Tao to his feet.  “Well, well, well…looks like you have no choice but to help me now, Eiron.”

 Tao wiped the excess mud from his eyes while the rain cleansed his face and hair.  “Dar?”  He quickly assessed his dilemma--his friend lay unconscious, King Zad loomed over him like a vulture and the Terron warriors were making their way down a trail to assist their king.

 “Your animal lover can’t help you and if you won’t comply to my wishes, he dies.”  Zad’s threat was strengthened as soon as a couple of his men jumped off their horses and stood guard.

 “What is it you want?” Tao asked curiously.  He watched Kodo and Podo dash safely inside their pouch on the ground, the rain too unbearable for them.  Tao, then picked up the pouch and placed it over his shoulder, wondering if he’d lost the gem from the tumble down the hillside.  “I don’t know how I could possibly help you, I always seem to muddle my way through things,” he chuckled nervously, hoping his play on words would ease the tension between them.  “What could I possibly offer you?”

 Zad wasn’t amused.  “Your wisdom, not your wit.  Eirons are known for their wisdom, are they not?”  Weary of the relentless rain, the king was desperate enough to ask for this slave’s help.  Once his audience became somber, Zad elaborated, “It’s been raining for days now and it’s not even the rainy season.  What do you make of it?”

 Fond of having the upper hand with his knowledge, Tao gained some confidence and offered his thoughts.  “The rainstorm seems to be following you.  Before we crossed paths, the skies were clear.  I believe it’s supernatural…maybe sorcery or a curse.” 

 “That’s ludicrous!  Who would dare curse me?  Their king!”

 One of the braver Terrons spoke up, “He may speak the truth, my lord.  The rain nearly stopped when we were still upon the ledge.”

 Zad contorted his face, confused by what he’d just been told.  When Tao offered proof, the king asked, “How?”

 “The rain cloud isn’t that huge from what I saw.  So, first, send out two warriors, one north, the other south, until they reach the point where the storm ends,” Tao suggested.

 Reasonable advice, Zad thought and nodded to two of his warriors.  The men obeyed and jumped on their horses riding off in opposite directions.  Addressing the two remaining Terrons, he commanded, “Tie up the Beastmaster and throw him on the back of a horse.  We wouldn’t want him to drown in the mud, now would we?”  The evil king snickered.  He could tell Tao’s self-assurance was dwindling as the riders spread farther apart.  Finally, when they reached fair weather, they signaled the king confirming the Eiron’s theory.  Zad eyed the distance between his warriors.  “It’s true, a small storm.  Now what?”

 “You and I will walk towards the west.  Now, if what your men say is true about the rains diminishing, then we know the storm is traveling west.  The two men guarding Dar will let us know once the rains subside. At that point, we’ll turn around and head back.  However, if the rains stay with us, then there will be no doubt it’s following you.”

 “This better not be a trick to separate my warriors!” Zad warned with distrust.

 “You have nothing to fear from me—ahh!”  Tao soon learned the king wasn’t the least bit worried about being alone with him.  Zad grabbed Tao’s shirt and dragged him along.  It wasn’t too long before the king discovered the Eiron was right.  Sure enough, when his men waved that the rains were ending and he returned with Tao, the rains changed course right along with them.

 “That witch!  She did this to me!  She’s cursed me!” Zad spat as he approached the two men guarding the Beastmaster.  He gestured for the others to return.  “I asked to be showered with good fortune not curses!  Sorceress!”

 The king’s voice echoed throughout the Sorceress’ chamber.  The Ancient One looked up from the image in the crystal basin to see how his apprentice was dealing with the king’s misfortune.  He could tell she wasn’t handling it well.  “Oh come now, my dear.  There has to be a simple explanation.  Are you sure you’re not ill?”

 “Positive.  Something went wrong, but what?”  She was mystified.

 “Perhaps the Beastmaster’s Eiron friend can find the solution.  He’s very bright for a mortal.  Seems to know a world of information about plants and herbs too.  Do you think he’d ever consider becoming a student of mine?”

 The Sorceress giggled at the thought.  After spying on Tao for so long now, she imagined how he, with his clumsy ways and charming wit, might possibly drive the Ancient One over the edge.  If anyone could do it, the Eiron would be the one.  She finally answered her tutor, “He doesn’t believe in the supernatural, he prefers the natural.”

 “I suppose you’re right.”  The wizard looked back down at the image in the pool of the basin and smiled at the promising mortal.

 Tao became aware that Dar was stirring—a good sign.  He had to stall for time and keep Zad busy.  “May I make a suggestion?”

 “What do you know of sorcery?”  Zad stood in front of the Eiron scholar, thinking how a king like he could benefit from this man’s wisdom.  What did a beastmaster need with knowledge anyway?

 “There’s always one way to break a spell, though not always a curse.  However, since you requested the Sorceress to shower you with good fortune, then she probably only cast a spell on you.  There’s no doubt she showered you, it just happens to be with rain.  And as for the good fortune—“ Tao paused.  Come to think of it, he had run into plenty of good fortune lately.  “That’s odd.  I was just telling Dar earlier how lucky I’ve been lately.  First, that thief attacking me tripped and then I found the biggest, shiniest stone I’ve ever seen…”  His words faded, worried the king would want it for his own.  “And, just now when you were rolling down the hill, aiming straight for me, something happened and you crashed into Dar instead.  It’s like someone blessed me with good fortune.  Tell me how the Sorceress cast her spell.  I’ll need to know if I’m to help.”

 “Some mumbo-jumbo about showers and doves,” Zad replied listlessly.  The callous king smiled recalling, “I was more interested in you at the time.  There you were, a small image within the Sorceress’ basin.  I wondered if I could squash you with my finger like an insect.  Pity it didn’t work.”

 Appalled, Tao’s mouth hung open.  Behind the king, he noticed Dar’s eyes open, surveying his surroundings.  Tao needed to gain Zad’s full attention as well as his warriors.  “If you touched my image while the Sorceress placed a spell on you, then maybe we share it; except, you are being showered with rain and I…the good fortune.”

 Tao’s image shimmered in the crystal pool.  “Clever boy, wouldn’t you say?”  The Ancient One smiled at the Sorceress.  “Maybe I could change his mind about the supernatural.”  Eager to hear what Tao said next, he put a finger to his lip to shush his apprentice.  “Shhhh…”

 “I may know a way to break the hex.”  Tao cringed at his last statement.  How could he claim such a thing when he had no knowledge of spells?  How long could he stall Zad and the Terrons?

 “How?”

 “That’s just what I was asking myself,” Tao mumbled beneath his breath.

 “What?”  Zad squinted, scrutinizing the Eiron to see if he was lying.  He hadn’t clearly heard what Tao said because of the rain.  Suddenly, one of his men announced approaching riders.  Zad pushed Tao aside and walked beyond his party of men to greet the Ayribions, missing the sigh of relief coming from the Eiron.

 “King Zad!” the elder Ayribion prince hailed.  The group he rode with consisted of ten soldiers and several slaves carrying a veiled woman sheltered within a covered throne.  They stopped short of the Terron king, lowering the princess to the ground.  Prince Alcola jumped off his horse and twirled in the rain.  “Magnificent!  You said you’d bring us good fortune in exchange for my daughter’s hand in marriage.  Rain is the best dowry a man could ever offer us!”

 Puzzled, Zad looked back at Tao.  “Could the Sorceress have known?”

 “Well, it’s common knowledge that the Ayribions live in a desert and water is their most prized possession.”  Tao forgot all about Dar’s predicament, fascinated by the Ayribions. 

 Dressed in light-colored robes now drenched and hugging his body, Alcola stepped closer and noticed Tao’s ring, the badge of his tribe.  “You are correct, young Eiron.  However, there is another possession we value more, the emblem of our people.  A gem beyond belief.”

 “Your daughter,” Tao guessed.  “I hear her beauty casts spells on men and that’s why she’s forced to hide her face.”  His peripheral vision caught sight of Zad’s glaring face.  Tao decided to say no more.

 “Ah, Princess Lori is, and always will be, my most precious gem.”  He turned to gaze at his daughter; however, the blonde beauty had her eyes on King Zad, studying him contentedly.  She found the scars on his face intriguing…his baldness attractive.  Her father faced Tao again.  “No, what I speak of is the emblem of my tribe…the Ayrib Stone.  Three thieves stole it from our lands.  Without it, my people fear we will no longer be protected.”

 Zad fancied what he saw in the princess.  Fed up with the idle chitchat, he interrupted.  “With whom do you need protection from?—surely not me.  No tribe in their right mind would want the Wastelands, let alone fight over them.  Let’s get on with business.  I brought you rain, your most precious commodity.  Now finish the deal…hand over your fair daughter to me.”

 “I cannot.”

 “I don’t want to hear that!” Zad barked.

 Alcola hated to go back on his word, but the matters of his people came first.  “Without the stone, my daughter cannot marry.  I am sorry.  The stone protects our lands from the never-ending droughts.  Without it, we will be forced to leave our homes.”

 Something caught the Princess’ eye.  She wondered who the savage-looking man was who just freed himself and slid off the horse.  With a flick of his foot, he tossed a weapon lying on the ground into the air, catching it with ease.  In a sultry voice she spoke, “Who is that man?”

 Zad and the others whirled around.  “Beastmaster!  He’s free you fools!  Get him!”  Dar stood alert, ready to fend off any attackers.

 Kodo squealed as he peaked out of the pouch, elated to see his friend was all right.  Suddenly, Tao remembered the shiny stone he found.  “Wait!  I think I have the Ayrib Stone.”  Those words brought the Terrons to a halt and everyone’s eyes fell upon the Eiron.  “The same thieves who stole your stone attacked us.  That’s when I found it.  See,” he said as he pulled the stone from the satchel, fending off being bitten by the nervous ferrets inside.  He held out the large stone.  Even in the rain it sparkled.

 “That’s it!” Prince Alcola cried.  He snatched it out of Tao’s hands.  “You have saved our people, young Eiron.  Name your reward and it shall be yours.”  He bowed his head in grateful appreciation.

 “Only that my friend, Dar, and I should walk away with our lives.”  Tao bowed his head returning the polite gesture.  Seeing his friend had things under control, Dar relaxed his stance.  He watched Prince Alcola walk closer to his daughter to hand her the stone. 

 “Nobody leaves until you tell me how to get rid of this cursed rain!” Zad protested as he grabbed Tao by his shirt.

 “I think you already did when you offered the Ayribions the rain and now that I’ve returned the stone, we’ve both passed on our good fortunes.  At least I hope it was that easy.”  Tao stepped away from the Terron king as soon as he released his grip.

 “Perhaps you’re right.”  Zad faced the Ayribion prince.  “And what of my bride?”

 Princess Lori loosened her veil, letting it drop from her face.  She stepped down from her seated throne.  “I am pleased with what I see, King Zad.  I will wed you in one year’s time…no sooner.”  Her beauty cast a spell over all the men in her presence.  Zad uttered an agreement, unable to refuse the woman.   She held out the stone in the palm of her hand and closed her eyes.  Soon the storm around them turned to vapor and spun like a whirlpool.  The waterspout vanished into the stone.  The Princess closed her hand and returned to her throne.

 “I suggest you and the Beastmaster leave while you have the chance,” Prince Alcola spoke to Tao, breaking the bewitching trance his daughter held over the him.  Appreciative of the head start, Tao thanked the Ayribion prince and bowed his head once more.  He headed straight to his friend and shook him gently.  Sure enough, Dar broke free of the spell.  Both he and Tao fled up the path.

 Alcola clapped his hands in front of the Terrons and Zad.  “Always a pleasure, King Zad.  ‘Til next year.”

 “Yes, next year…” Zad uttered.  The Terron king watched the Ayribions depart until they faded in the shimmering heat of the desert sands.

 The image slowly dissolved in the crystal basin.  “Well, well, well,” the Ancient One taunted.  “King Zad seems to be smitten with the princess.”

 “So it seems,” the Sorceress murmured, “but I doubt he’ll ever marry her.  Princess Lori’s beauty makes him powerless--a vulnerability he won’t have.  At least I now know what went wrong with my spell.”

 “Yes, perhaps next time, you’d better keep Zad away from your crystal basin.  Better yet, perhaps you should stop watching the Beastmaster and his clumsy friend altogether.”  With that said, the Ancient One vanished, leaving the Sorceress to brood by herself. 

~ The End ~

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