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

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Venom
by  Laurie Allen

Takes place late in Season 2

Teaser

Deep within the bowels of the earth, a huge cobra slithered across the cold, wet ground of the underground burrow leading to the core of the lair.  Dim light glistened off the slate walls as water trickled down illuminating the way.  The cobra reached the main chamber and to its viewpoint the woman standing in the center was breathtaking.  Her large eyes twinkled when she smiled at the sight of the powerful creature.

“Naja, my pet,” Iara knelt down to stroke the enormous snake now moving slowly around her feet.  “I have a favor to ask of you… and, if you grant me this request, I’ll speak to the Ancient One about returning you back to the man you once were -- the man I loved so dearly.”  The demon felt a chill of elation as she fondled the scales of her favorite reptile.  She dearly missed being held in his arms, the arms of the handsome warrior whom she fell madly in love with so many years ago.  Back then, she feared for Naja since she would eventually kill him…the demon inside her always killed her lovers.  Iara had pleaded with the Ancient One to change Naja into something she could love forever without endangering his life.  However, time ebbed her feelings for the beautiful warrior.  Her thoughts were now flooded with Dar.  It was time to let Naja have his freedom. 

The wizard had been more than happy to oblige, having an ulterior motive -- there would be a price to pay.  An unsuspecting Naja was turned into a venomous king cobra.  The Ancient One felt it befitting for the demon; however, he left Naja with his passion and memories of her intact.  Iara’s lover would be tortured the same way Sharak had been.  The cruel wizard also plagued Naja with venom that wasn’t fatal, but instead, would drive his victims mad with hatred and jealousy.  Consequently, his victims would be inflicted with the same feelings that seethed inside Naja – feelings driven by his bitterness of being imprisoned as a snake and not the man Iara could love.

Naja relished Iara’s touch and whenever he was in her presence he still managed to capture her attention.  Slender fingers caressed the snake as he hoisted his upper body, bellowing his head into a hood.  Naja couldn’t refuse Iara’s wishes, especially when he came face-to-face with his love.  She smiled affectionately.  “I knew you wouldn’t deny me my pleasure.  Your venom infects the blood of your prey with uncontrollable hatred.  Your victim’s thirst cannot be sated except by death…pity.”  Iara smiled wickedly as the thoughts of her latest scheme raced through her mind.  “There is a human I want you to bite.  You must infect his pure heart with your vicious sting.  He’s the Beastmaster’s pesky little friend, Tao.  Once your venom overtakes him, not even the Beastmaster will be able to reach his friend.  Why, it may be Dar who winds up destroying the little pest!”  A pout replaced her sinister grin.  “Dar will be grief stricken, but I’ll be there to comfort the grieving man.”   Her funk quickly faded…replaced by another shrewd smile.

Naja stewed each time Iara mentioned the Beastmaster.  He hid his true reaction hoping that if he became a man again, he could kill the Beastmaster and be the only true love for Iara.

*****

Sunlight glistened through the trees, its rays kindling warmth to the forest below.  Tao gazed upward, treasuring the sun’s beams upon his skin.  This was nature’s magic, a work of art all its own.  He wondered if Dar ever took the time to appreciate such splendor.  Tao found his answer when he checked on his friend -- the Beastmaster, with eyes closed, stood close by, his face tilted towards the sun.  Tao smiled.  It was times like this he felt content with his life and he returned his gaze to the sky.  The warmth subsided and the brightness faded as a huge cloud covered the sun.  The darkness reminded Tao of the shadow that once hung over his homeland and the people of Xinca.  The nagging question burned in his mind…what if?  The cloud soon passed and the sun’s rays returned.  Tao turned to his friend.  “Dar?  If you were given the chance to live your life over, would you?  I mean… think of all the awful things that happened in your past… things you could change.  Well, would you?”

With his face still facing the sun and eyes closed, Dar answered negatively. 

Taken aback by his friend’s nonchalant reply, Tao offered his reasons why he would.  “Well, if I could, I would have returned to Xinca sooner than I had and I would have found a way to stop the Blood Priests from taking over and sacrificing the Eirons, especially my parents and my uncle.  Then, Kim would still be alive.”  Still disturbed by his friend’s answer and now his silence, Tao grabbed his arm to get Dar’s attention and confronted him.  “Why wouldn’t you want to change what’s happened in the past?”

Dar lowered his gaze and turned to his traveling companion, squinting an eye to block the bright sun.  “It’s not in my power, Tao.  I told you whatever happens—”

“Happens for a reason.  I know, I know,” Tao finished his sentence.  His frown showed he wasn’t satisfied with that explanation.  “But if you were given this chance, wouldn’t you want to bring Kyra back?”

Dar firmly gripped the shoulder of his troubled friend.  “Tao, if I could go back and somehow save my tribe from the Terrons, I doubt that would change the outcome.  It was their time to die.  It was Kyra’s time as well.  No one can change fate.”  Dar checked to see if Tao was grasping his meaning even though he knew the Eiron believed one could control or change his own fate.  His friend’s eyes were wide with uncertainty and etched with sadness instead of the joy he had seen in them before their last visit to Xinca.  Dar had to reach him.  “Besides, if it were possible to change what’s already taken place, you and I may never have met.  Tao, I cherish our friendship.  I wouldn’t want to trade it for anything.  You and I are like...” he paused trying to find some way to make Tao understand, “… like my staff.”  Dar smiled before removing his hand from his friend’s shoulder.  He reached back and withdrew the two ends of his weapon from their sheath to demonstrate.  “Separate, we’re each strong individuals, but together, we’re an invincible team.”  He twisted the two pieces together, stepped away and skillfully twirled the weapon with ease.  Once he made his point and was content with the smile on his friend’s face, Dar lowered the weapon to his side.  “We better get moving.”

Flushed by Dar’s sincere response, Tao was speechless.  He let Dar’s words resonate through his mind and he chuckled.  Sometimes his friend was wiser than any Eiron elder.  Tao gathered his belongings and scuttled after the Beastmaster.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, Iara whipped in front of him, blocking his path.  Tao nearly slammed into her, but he took a step back.  “Dar!”

In a flash, Iara waved her hand and Tao went flying, landing in the tall grass.  The earth below his body easily gave way and swallowed the Eiron whole.  Iara darted off just as swiftly as she appeared.  It was Tao’s yelp after calling his friend’s name that made Dar  turn around.  Tao was nowhere to be seen.

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