|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.|
Takes place late in Season 2
Dar studied the stranger. Definitely a warrior by the armor breastplate he wore. What sparked his utmost attention, though, was the fact that this man was dripping wet. It dawned on him. “You came from Iara’s world. Tell me which pool leads there.”
Naja scoffed at the man’s brazenness -- a definite characteristic of himself. After all, it was he who inflicted the Beastmaster with this curse to desire Iara, a maddening curse indeed. “Never.” In a matter of seconds, the skilled warrior twisted Dar’s arm, forcing him off balance.
Dar toppled to the ground but quickly recovered his footing by continuously rolling until he stood upright. He raised the sword that he still held tightly and charged the stranger before the man had time to unsheathe his weapon. The rage churning within the Beastmaster consumed his self-control; he swung like a madman. One quick swish sliced Naja’s upper arm. Startled, he jumped back and withdrew his weapon, readying it like a shield. Sunlight glinted off the polished sword’s blade, blinding Dar momentarily. However, that didn’t stop him from lunging forward. Metal struck metal and sparks shot off the blades as they clanged in tune from the contact. Dar pulled back and twirled his sword as if it were his staff weapon. He paused, holding out his left arm in preparation for another attack. “One last chance, tell me where Iara is.”
Naja smirked rebelliously. His pupils dilated in alarm as Dar lurched towards him. Rusty with his warrior skills, Naja barely moved out of the way. Fortunately, the blade only caught the tender flesh of his right cheek instead of his jugular. Blood trickled down his face as he sidestepped yet another strike. He had to run or the Beastmaster would do him in. He fled, running north.
Dar gazed at the numerous pools. Far too many to guess which one led to Iara’s underworld. He needed an answer, so he bolted after the stranger.
In a wooded area where two paths crossed, one trail used
more than the other, Tao waited impatiently as Arina analyzed several footprints
where she knelt. When she finally
glanced up, he didn’t care for the disappointment on her face.
The dread of not finding his friend consumed him.
“Can you track him or not?”
“Too easily. He’s not covering his tracks.” Arina rose to her feet wiping the dirt from her hands.
"If there’s no trouble tracking him, Arina, then why the worried look?” Still restless about Dar’s whereabouts, Tao paced back and forth in front of her, inadvertently jerking the rope attached to Zad’s midriff. The Terron king paid no heed, but instead remained quiet and calm. He made use of his time studying the Namib warrior. A great leader should know their enemies, especially since she was a threat. Tao stood still when he felt her eyes upon him.
Arina took the rope from Tao as she answered his question. “Because he’s not alone. There are two men following him.” She tugged firmly on the leash tied securely around Zad’s waist, yanking him so he was now face-to-face with her. “Not that I’m worried about the Beastmaster, I’m sure he can take care of himself. But if he’s been bitten by some supernatural snake, then we don’t know what kind of danger he may be in.” Her eyes narrowed as she glared at the king. She would never trust a Terron. Never.
“We should hurry. Which way?” Tao frantically grabbed Dar’s staff and retrieved the ferret’s pouch that he had placed on the ground earlier. With everything in tow, he awaited Arina’s directions. “Arina?”
Zad just smiled at the woman. He took pleasure in the loathing she felt for him. “The man’s waiting,” he said cynically.
Arina jerked the rope hard enough to make Zad catch his breath. She mused at his discomfort and turned around, heading south. “This way.”
Eager to calm her down, Tao jogged after them until he caught up to her. His stride couldn’t compare to her long legs. The bronzed beauty stood taller than either himself or Zad. Tao didn’t mind the fast pace -- it meant they would have a better chance of catching up to Dar. He glanced back momentarily at Zad but only received a scornful look. Nothing he could do for the man. “Arina, may I ask you something?”
“I’m sure he’s fine, Tao.”
Arina tried reassuring the Beastmaster’s friend that Dar was all right.
She admired their friendship. She
once felt a strong camaraderie between several of the Nord… Tor, Hjalmar and
even Voden. Arina missed the
earlier days, when Voden wasn’t as unpredictable as he was today.
She envied Dar and Tao’s closeness.
The Terron king, in contrast, loved to provoke his enemies and decided to butt in. “I’m sure it’s the same question he asked me. Let’s see, how was it phrased? Ah yes, what regrets do you have? You must have many siding up with that boy king.” Arina stopped, but didn’t turn around. Zad stood behind her and pressed on, “In other words, would you change anything you’ve done in the past, like bedding Voden’s campaign?”
Arina whipped around and flashed him a warning that instantly made Zad silent. The Terron king smiled a twisted grin to show her no harm was meant by what he had said. She rolled her eyes, turned back and picked up her pace. She forced a smile to the gentler man trying to keep up. “You want to know if I have any regrets, Tao?”
Tao was skipping sideways to keep up with the woman. He nodded his head slightly in response. “Something to that nature. It’s more complex though. I’m curious to know if you were given the opportunity to change some event in your past, so that you could make it happen the way you’d like it to, would you change it?”
Arina smiled at Tao’s vivid imagination. She didn’t have to think long at all. “Of course.”
Tao smiled. “May I ask you what you would change?”
The Namib woman recalled buried memories and spoke softly while walking. “I would never have lost sight of Orpheo on the battlefield that day. We’d be together instead of apart.” Her eyes welled with moisture from the surfacing recollections of the one man she had truly loved.
Tao liked her answer, but knew when to leave well enough alone. He sympathized with the sadness etched across her face. Zad on the other hand couldn’t see the pain in Arina’s eyes since he was walking behind them. “What fool wouldn’t want to change something in their past if given the opportunity?”
“Dar, for one,” Tao blurted out without realizing he was suggesting him a fool. “He told me he wouldn’t change anything in his life.”
Zad sneered. “Of course, another flaw in his character. The Beastmaster never kills his enemies and now, he would give up a chance to change something in the past. He’s blind as a bat. Both grave oversights on his part. Could be his undoing.
Tao tried to reason with the king by defending his absent friend. “Dar believes that things happen for a reason, whether it’s to make a person stronger or to change his course in life. Dar lives for the moment—”
“Like the beasts he lives with,” Zad finished the sentence. Tao frowned. Suddenly, he felt Arina’s hand on his stomach, stopping him in his tracks. Zad almost bumped into them both. “Now what?” the king spat.
“Stay here,” she ordered, handing Tao the rope. The curious Eiron’s eyes followed Arina to where she now stood several yards away. She was looking at something in the tall grass. Tao carefully scanned the area ahead and finally noticed the two bodies lay slain on the ground. He refused to stay put and ran over to where she now knelt. Zad didn’t need to be coerced into moving either once he, too, saw the reason. He ran alongside Tao. Just as they reached Arina, she rolled both bodies over so they laid face up. The dead men’s clothes were soaked with their own blood. Tao felt remorse for the victims but at the same time relieved when he discovered neither was Dar.
“Mepko? Zetka?” Zad questioned. He scowled.
Puzzled, Arina lifted her head to look at the Terron king. “You know them?”
“My men. What wretched creature did this? I’ll rip its heart out!” Zad had grown fond of the two warriors; both had proved to be loyal and had excelled in the art of sword fighting. Good men were hard to find these days as he prepared for battle with the Nords.
Tao felt sympathetic towards the ruthless king. He was amazed that Zad actually cared. “Arina, can you tell by the tracks who might have done this? Could it be the Nords? Are we in any danger?” He was scanning the area for any signs of intruders. Fortunately, the area was clear.
Arina knew instantly by the few set of prints. She rose and faced them both. “There’s only sign of another person here besides these two. I’m sorry, Tao. It had to have been Dar who killed these men.” Arina watched Tao’s face ashen. He gazed down at the dead bodies and then back at her, asking for confirmation.
While Tao denied her accusation, Zad pondered on it. “So, there may be hope for the Beastmaster after all.” He took pleasure in the moment as the others stared on, bewildered by his statement. Zad smiled wickedly and elaborated, “He’s finally killed. He’s rid himself of his major fault. Now if he can only accept the changing world—” His words faded by his laughter.
“This is no laughing matter!” Tao protested. “Something’s happened to Dar! He’s not himself. It has to be the cobra bite. Arina, we need to find Dar and stop him before he does any more harm.”
Arina agreed and took Zad’s leash from Tao. She yanked it firmly to end the king’s amusement. Satisfied she had put him in his place, her eyes traced Dar’s footsteps. “His tracks lead this way.” She started to turn but froze at the sight of the handsome warrior blocking their path.
Naja stood before the awestruck trio. He studied them carefully, his eyes meeting with each of theirs, starting with the bald man whose scars upon his face showed he was no doubt an experienced fighter and survivor. However, he was no threat bound and leashed held by the tall woman. She too was a warrior…Naja could tell that easily. She appeared to be the only threat since the man next to her was the Eiron he was supposed to have bitten, unquestionably a peaceful man. He raised his sword when Arina withdrew her knife. The glare from the afternoon sun reflected off the smooth blade.
Zad shielded his eyes with his hand. “Magnificent!” A smile lit up his face. “He’s the perfect warrior. With him on my side I’ll squash Voden.”
Arina yanked on the leash. “You’re not in a position to do anything, are you?” She noticed the stranger eyeing Tao with sorrowful eyes. “Who are you?” she asked boldly.
Without taking his eyes off the Eiron, Naja lowered his sword and answered. “My name is Naja. I am from the Netherlands.”
The name joggled Tao’s mind. “The Netherlands? Those are the lands below the Lowlands. I’ve heard stories of invincible warriors from my Elders. Heroic men …men of honor yielding powerful weapons.” He smiled at the fact that he finally came face-to-face with such a champion. “But you’re far from home…”
Arina stepped forward to shield the Eiron, whose enthusiasm astonished her. The stranger appeared dangerous to her, yet Tao was ready to walk up and greet him without any fear. “We have no quarrel with you.”
“Did you kill these men?” Zad asked, no longer concerned for the loss of his two warriors. It seemed more feasible that this mighty warrior had slain them instead of the Beastmaster. The Terron king marveled at the superiority of his sword, its steel polished like chrome.
Naja shook his head. “I’ve never seen them before.”
“Get away from them!” Dar yelled, running into the clearing. With sword overhead the Beastmaster charged Naja, bringing the sword down, blade meeting blade.
“Dar!” Tao was elated to see his friend alive, but also confused as to why he was fighting this noble warrior.
Adjusting to being a man once again, Naja fought with great conviction. He hammered his rival blow after blow forcing the Beastmaster backwards, losing his balance. Dar tried to counterbalance the attack, but each pounding threw him farther out of kilter. Tao and Arina’s pleas to stop were drowned out by the sounds of the metals striking each other. The skilled swordsman struck Dar’s sword sidelong, propelling it out of his hands. Naja’s swift movement was unstoppable and the momentum of his weapon kept plummeting until it lodged itself into the unarmed man’s shoulder.
Dar gasped as the blade plunged deep into flesh. He toppled backwards and was soon free of the sword’s hold. Stunned, he blinked at the warrior who bested him. Naja stepped back lowering his weapon at the same time. He could easily take this man’s life, but he valued chivalry above all else.
“Dar!” Tao exclaimed, running to help his friend. He grabbed hold of Dar’s arms as the injured man faltered, trying to keep from falling. Dar let his weight collapse into Tao’s hold. His friend tried to support him the best he could, but it was Arina’s strong arms that lent a hand. She managed to steady the Beastmaster.
Although an ample amount of blood was oozing from the wound, Dar managed to push free of their hold. He ran off into the woods. A bewildered Arina glanced at Tao. Behind them Zad jeered, “Off to lick his wounds, I dare say.” The Eiron shook his head in disgust and started running after his friend. Arina noticed some movement to her left. Naja had taken advantage of the situation and slipped off unobserved. She started after him, but Zad swung his fists, now free thanks to the Naja wishing to create another diversion. It worked. Arina fell to the ground…out cold. No longer having any need for the Eiron, Zad took off after his new prize -- the Netherland warrior. He called out to him, “Naja!” The Terron king breathed a sigh of relief when the man turned around. Zad kept his distance nonetheless. “I have an offer to make you. Join me in stopping the Nords and I’ll see to it you get your fondest desires.”
“You could never get me what I truly want.”
“Don’t be too hasty…I always get what I want.”
Naja glared at the boastful Terron. He had nothing to lose listening to him.
Dar slowed as he became weaker. “Iara!” he yelled, circling aimlessly before collapsing to his knees.
“Dar!” Tao slid beside his friend as his chase came to a stop. He ripped off his pack and shook the contents on the ground. Frantic to find a clean bandage, Tao pushed away any useless artifacts. He found the cloths and took one to wipe the bloody wound, but the Beastmaster struggled. “Dar, please let me help you…you aren’t yourself.”
Eyes locked onto one another. Dar recognized the friendly face and barely smiled. Tao’s worried brow eased as he returned a smile. The wounded man flinched from the harsh cloth rubbing the wound clean. “Tao…” he muttered, “…I have to find Iara.”
“Well, you won’t be able to find her until I bandage you. Understand?” Dar’s endless longing to find the demon mystified Tao. And what of Zad’s dead men? Still winded from the chase, he spoke his mind between breaths. “There’s no need to find her, Dar. What’s done is done. I’m all right. You’re alive. She’s only trouble, Dar.” Tossing the bloodied rag aside, Tao spread some healing herbs onto another cloth and started dabbing it over the wound. Strange… the cut was in the same exact spot as the cobra had bit him. Worry lines carved their place on Tao’s brow as he scowled. Could it be just a coincidence?
Dar wasn’t listening to his friend. “Iara!” he called again. “Where is she? Why won’t she answer me?”
“Save your strength.” Tao wound another cloth around his shoulder, pulling it tightly. “She’s playing games with us.”
“Us? Why you?” Dar snapped.
Tao didn’t care for his friend’s tone. There was an edge to his voice that almost sounded like a jealous lover. In rebuttal, Tao altered his caring tone to more of a defensive one. “I said us. Dar, you’re not yourself since that cobra bit you. You’ve killed two men and now you’re running around the forest looking for Iara. That cobra meant to bite me, but bit you when you jumped between us.”
“What could Iara possibly want with you?” Dar grabbed hold of Tao’s arm squeezing it tightly.
Tao grimaced but didn’t pull away. He continued to try and unravel the mystery while reasoning with his friend. “I’m not sure, Dar. She appeared out of nowhere and the next thing I knew, I’m lying at the bottom of a pit with a cobra. Most likely she wanted me out of the way. She would have gotten her wish if it hadn’t been for Arina. I can’t believe you left me in that pit alone with Zad. I knew something was wrong with you…you would have never left me with Zad otherwise.”
Satisfied his wise friend could be right regarding Iara’s plans, Dar ribbed, “I thought you’d appreciate a captive audience.” When Tao didn’t smile, Dar turned serious. “Zad would never harm you, Tao. He has plans for you. You’re important to him.”
Tao wasn’t so sure. He still felt that Dar wasn’t himself. “I was still in danger. The cobra was after me in the first place and it could have returned. Did you even think of that? Maybe that’s why Iara isn’t answering you. It’s because she wants meeeeee--” Tao suddenly found himself flung on his back. Dar had grabbed his shirt and with all his might, sent him sailing midair until he landed a few feet away. The jolt had knocked the breath from him so he couldn’t move.
The movement opened Dar’s wound, the cloth became soaked with blood. “You can’t have her…she’s mine! Iara!” Dar rose to his feet and circled around, repeating her name.
Dazed, Tao watched from the ground, slowly catching his breath.
The Ancient One appeared behind Iara. His nose turned up at the musty smell of her underwater world. “Playing hard to get with the Beastmaster?”
A whimper of surprise escaped her throat as she spun around to find the sorcerer suddenly behind her. Quickly composing herself as if he had no effect on her, Iara smiled a distorted grin. “So nice of you to drop in. What do you mean playing hard to get?” She had heard Dar’s yells, but figured he was only angry because his little friend wasn’t himself since the cobra bit him. She wasn’t ready to face his wrath… not yet. He would need more time to suffer so he would bend to her demands.
“He’s been searching for you all day, calling your name over and over. Surely you’re not deaf. Why are you ignoring him?” The Ancient One wanted so much to witness her expression when she discovered her scheme had backfired. He hoped to egg her on just to satisfy his own needs. “My, my… I do believe your Beastmaster is injured.”
Iara looked to him for answers but knew better. Her eyebrows lowered as she searched her demonic instincts. Could Tao have wounded his friend? She knew Naja’s venom was strong and Tao would be in a frenzy, but Dar was stronger than his little friend. He would have prevented him from doing any harm… or would he? Frantic, she scurried off leaving the Ancient One beaming a self-satisfied smile.
Tao had recovered and cautiously approached his crazed friend who was wandering senselessly calling for the snake demon. Dar seemed almost in tears… frail and defeated. No doubt the wound weakened him. Tao gently took hold of his arm but immediately jumped back to avoid Dar’s defensive reflex. Moving in again, Tao readily gained control of the Beastmaster’s feeble attempt to ward him off. He had a firm hold of both upper arms. “Dar, you’re not well. Please let me help you.” He tried soothing the savage beast, but his friend’s eyes were wide with jealous hatred. Tao braved the consequences and steadied the taller man as he leaned against him. Dar’s eyes softened momentarily.
“Leave him to me!” Iara hissed. Her rapid movement made her approach undetected by the twosome.
Dar’s adrenaline re-emerged and he pushed Tao aside. “Iara.” He stepped closer to her but she backed away. Dar frowned. “Iara, I won’t hurt you.”
“Hah, you couldn’t if you tried,” she scorned. She noticed his unsteadiness and then the blood seeping through the bandage caught her eye. Iara glared at Tao for answers. “Did you do this to him?” Her eyes were wide, sparked with vengeance.
Tao could tell she was being overprotective of Dar, so he chose his words carefully. “No, a warrior from a faraway land injured Dar. I was just trying to help him.”
Iara switched her attention back to Dar when his fingers started caressing her face. Something wasn’t right. “Why aren’t you angry with me?”
Dar smiled meekly. “I could never be mad at you, Iara. I love you. Please, take me to your world.”
“No, Dar,” Tao protested. “He’s not himself. He doesn’t know what he’s saying. But, I’m sure you already know that since it was your cobra that bit him and ever since—”
“Noooo!” she wailed. “Naja!”
Dar grabbed her arm and drew her closer. He wasn’t afraid of the threatening eyes that penetrated his soul. “You don’t need him. I’m here. Love me, Iara.”
The demon in Iara seemed to melt under his gaze. Hazel eyes, so intense, waited for her response. She gulped, turned her eyes to check on the Eiron and then back to Dar’s eyes. Iara smiled but it soon turned to a pout. Everything finally came into focus and only one thing mattered. “You love me?”
Tao watched in amazement at how fast the demon had turned into a sweet, demure woman. But what was more incredible was Dar’s answer.
“More than anything. I want to share my life with you.” Lightheaded, Dar wavered to and fro. Iara caught him, her strength incomparable to his.
“Dar?” Tao felt helpless as Iara lifted his friend in her arms and zipped off into the woods.
“I believe I can count on you.” The Sorceress stood behind the Eiron and was amused at how he jumped, startled by her sudden appearance. The Beastmaster never seemed to be phased by her presence.
Collecting his wits, Tao exclaimed, “You! You can stop her!”
“I can’t interfere.” She stared at the panicked but friendly face.
Tao tried to think. What could he do? His eyes traced up the length of the beautiful Sorceress until he met her eyes -- eyes that seemed to be searching for something. If she couldn’t interfere, then why was she here? “So you’re here to observe?”
“You could say that. I’m studying a strong human emotion -- regret.” She circled around him like a vulture. He was the Beastmaster’s only hope this time.
“You’ve come to the right place… I have many.” Tao stared off in the direction Iara had disappeared carrying his friend. Wait… Iara knew the Netherland warrior, called him by name. “Naja,” he uttered softly. “He may have answers.” Tao was ready to head back but noticed the Sorceress was still encircling him… staring at him. He suddenly felt uncomfortable.
“I overheard your recent conversations about changing things that happened in the past to alter their outcome.” Her wide eyes studied his every expression.
“My list keeps growing,” Tao sulked. He didn’t have time to play riddles. “I have to help Dar.” He walked passed her, heading back to where he left Zad and Arina.
“Wait, Tao. I’m granting you one wish, but please think it over carefully before you wish it. You will be able to change one event in your past to rectify a regret. Anything you choose.”
“Because I believe you are worthy.”
Tao smiled in disbelief. “Thank you.” He was still unsure of the gift she had just granted him. His mind was set on rescuing Dar. He nodded a good bye and ran off, nearly stumbling over a downed log.
“Don’t let me down,” the Sorceress whispered. Her apprenticeship depended on his unselfish decision.
Site created by BeastWatcher
My Fanfic is based on the BeastMaster: The Legend Continues Series
© 1999-2001 Tribune Entertainment Company All rights reserved