The Threads of Time

BeastMaster Fan Fiction
by
aikakone

Rating: R
Summary: Set during the end of season one before Kyra's death, a vicious hunter from the far north that is trying to kill the Beastmaster has an unexpected connection to Sharak. Includes the story of Sharak and the Sorceress as students of the Ancient One.


CHAPTER 4

Dar was at a loss that was so profound he wasn't sure what to do. Sharak, the most trusted of his animal friends was a man? No! This had to be another trick of the Sorceress. She had asked for him before and was trying to do anything to get him, including changing his form. She could not be trusted. Bile began to rise in his throat. She was the one who took his Kyra away.

"Dar, are you all right?" Tao asked his friend.

Dar turned his glowering face to Tao and curtly nodded.

Tao looked around again to see signs of Archel. Seeing none, he returned his attention to Dar. "Your face is cut. Let me help you." He patted the blood off Dar's face with a soft cloth.

Dar angrily slapped Tao's hand away, without taking his eyes off the Sorceress.

"This is a trick of your dark magic. Where is Sharak?"

"You don't understand, Beastmaster. This is Sharak," she said through clenched teeth.

"You lie!" Dar pointed his staff at the Sorceress, ready to strike.

Tao grabbed Dar by the arm. "Dar, don't. She's telling the truth. I saw it with my own eyes."

"Why are you, of all people, defending her? You are no more a fan of magic than I am!" Dar growled furiously at his friend.

"True," Tao said, trying to calm him. Dropping his voice to a whisper, he continued. "I am not saying I trust her magic, and I'm not saying I understand this. I do trust Sharak. He is your friend, and he has saved us both many times. If that really is him, we owe it to him to help."

"You're the one with healing knowledge. You stay here and help," Dar said angrily and turned to leave.

"Dar! Where are you going?"

"I'm going to find Sharak."

Dar stalked off into the forest leaving Tao to watch him go.

~*~*~*~

Tao approached her cautiously. "Sorceress?"

"Hmm?" She blankly looked up at Tao.

He kneeled down beside her. "Is this really Sharak? I mean, is he the one I know?"

"Yes," she said without the hint of further information.

He reached his hand out to Sharak without touching him. He still had the arrow through his chest. Tao had so many questions to ask, but he held them in check.

"Sorceress, we need to get the arrow out of his chest." He swallowed his fear to ask, "can you help me?"

Her eyes became clear as she understood what was being asked. "Yes."

He breathed to steady himself. "We need to break off the one end of the arrow and push the rest of it through."

Tao reached over to the arrow and gripped it under the flight feathers. He watched Sharak's face for signs of pain as he wrenched the feathered end of the arrow away from the rest of the shaft. Sharak stayed still.

He continued to instruct the Sorceress. "Now, hold his shoulder up from the ground and hold him still. I have to make the arrow come out the other side."

Tao winced in sympathetic pain at the thought and whispered to his unconscious friend, "I'm sorry, Sharak."

The Sorceress turned Sharak slightly over and steadied him. She gave his hair a loving stroke and then nodded that she was ready for Tao to begin. Tao noted the concern in the Sorceress' eyes as she held Sharak. It was not something that he ever thought he would see.

Tao used his strength to force the tip of the arrow to come out of the other man's back. Sharak seemed to be in pain but unaware of that new action. Tao thought that maybe this was a small blessing. The arrow was discarded to the side.

"Sorceress, I need you to hand me the water flask behind you."

Without moving Sharak, she turned at the waist to reach for the water flask. Reaching for it with ease, she turned back and handed it to Tao.

Tao poured the water on the wound left from the arrow. Sharak's sounds became softer, but more disturbing. It was the sound men made when they had no more hope. Tao then bound Sharak's shoulder with healing herbs and cloth over it. The Eiron hoped he was doing the right thing. If it were any other human, this would have helped take him out of the most immediate danger. As an eagle, Sharak was immortal, but in this human form, Tao was not sure which rules still held true for his friend.

After much comfort from the Sorceress, Sharak seemed to fall into rest. It was that moment that Tao's mind flooded with questions about all that he had seen.

"Sorceress..." he started with extreme caution.

She said no words, but she raised her eyes to look directly at him.

He sweated under her gaze, but went on bravely. Or foolishly. He wasn't sure himself which it was. Has Sharak always been an eagle?"

"Sharak was a man once long ago. He was cursed and transformed into the immortal eagle that you have known."

"But why? How did that happen?" Tao could not resist his curious urge.

The Sorceress turned her eyes back to Sharak, and gave Tao a simple answer. "We were once lovers, but our teacher discovered us. From that moment, we were always to be apart."

Tao nodded as if understanding all, and he seemed placated for a moment. Then more questions filled his head. "Why would that arrow change him back? I know he can't die because he is immortal, but why is he human after again all this time?"

The Sorceress picked up the arrowhead near them and examined it as one would examine the facets of a shiny stone. " Magic. There is magic in the bow."

She continued her silent inspection of the arrowhead and then declared, "The Ancient One must have made it."

"That's great," the Eiron said sarcastically. He had seen the Ancient One once when he was following Curupira. He didn't trust magic, and the wizard was part of that world. Tao continued to think about the Ancient One and then a brilliant thought came to him.

"Was the Ancient One the teacher who cursed you?"

The Sorceress had an expression on her face that showed the sharing time was over. Her defenses were coming back. "Yes," she replied with no emotion.

"Well, that's great!" Tap exclaimed happily.

The Sorceress shot him a nasty look that made it clear she thought there was nothing good about it at all.

Tao flushed with embarrassment and continued. "You see, the Ancient One's magic must have canceled itself out. The arrow didn't kill Sharak as it would any other animal or human being. It made him human, something you've probably been waiting for. The Ancient One's own magic broke the curse!" Tao giggled at his own genius and powers of deduction.

The light of revelation was glowing in the Sorceress eyes. She nodded and contemplated this possibility.

He looked at the Sorceress with new understanding. Softly Tao said, "now at least I understand why you asked Dar to communicate with him for you."

~*~*~*~

Dar's quest to find the real Sharak was futile. Sharak almost always answered him when he tried to communicate with him. This felt strange like when Ketzwayo made the animals go mad. The animals wouldn't talk to him, but he, too, became infected like the animals. None of this was helping Dar's disposition, so he sought help in someone else.

"Curupira!" Dar called into the forest several times for his demon mentor.

"You don't have to shout, Beastmaster. Have you stopped the hunter?" She appeared to him with a languid smile. Even when she looked pretty and calm as she did now, she still inspired fear.

"No," he said, brushing the thought away. "I need to find Sharak. And Ruh. Do know where they are?"

"Ruh is safe, but I think you already have Sharak" she said toyingly.

"No, there is only that man that I found." His throat tightened. What if that really was Sharak that he left back with Tao and the Sorceress?

He addressed Curupira again. "Is that man really Sharak? Did you already know about him?"

"Did I know what?" she taunted. "That he was once a man? Of course I knew!"

Dar was flabbergasted. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Humans! Always wanting to know everything. You are impossible."

"Curupira, please," he begged.

Her expression changed. "You are a Beastmaster, Dar," she said almost tenderly. "Knowing about Sharak would not have helped you protect my animals. Your only concern is to protect them from humans. Sharak survives. He can take care of himself."

Dar sighed at the knowledge. Sharak had been one of his first friends of all the beasts. Now he didn't know what to think. He felt betrayed that Sharak hadn't told him.

Curupira snapped his attention away from one misery to another. "You must stop the bow-hunter, do you understand me? Leave Sharak to his wounds."

Dar rebelled in asking, "but he was an animal once. Don't you care about him?"

"He was also a filthy, ugly human. He came into the world that way, and he may even leave it that way if he doesn't heal. He is still no concern of yours."

Her face turned hard as she reminded him, "go save my animals, Beastmaster. And remember: Sleep with your mouth closed."

Curupira laughed menacingly as she went back into the forest.

~*~*~*~

In a northern land far from the Beastmaster, a young woman walked to the edge of the woods known as Tapiola and studied them reverently. She rearranged her gear and walked into just inside the invisible border of the forest. The young huntress knelt on her knees and prayed the blessing from the Lady of Tapiola.

All the hunters prayed for the blessings of the god Tapio for big game, or to the Lady, Mielikki, for smaller quarry. The people of her tribe gave highest honor to the Lady because it was often She who gave the most blessings. As she was praying to the Lady, she heard her name being called.

The huntress followed the sound of her name on the wind. She was not fearful, but she was both curious and cautious. The sound was as no human voice; it was Thought personified. Thus called, she followed it deeper into the Blessed forest.

She came to a singular birch tree with gleaming bark. The tree radiated Nature's own magic. When she arrived, the sound of her name stopped.

'This must be where I am to go.' she thought. She calmed herself with her breath and sat down to wait.

The space around her glowed, and then she heard the voice. "Welcome to my Forest, my dear."

She smiled at the sound of the Lady speaking to her. It was an honor among her people to have been summoned by Her. She didn't dare open her eyes as she felt Her come near.

"Greetings, great Lady. I am your servant."

Mielikki walked silently around the young woman. She noticed the leather clothing and unassuming braid of long brown hair. The tools of the hunt were on the ground beside her. She hunted with a bow and had a dagger.

"My child, a dark time soon comes on us all. I need to send you away from our protected lands. You have a quest to complete. It is quite possible that you will die, but this is something you must do."

The huntress gasped in fear. "Yes, Lady," she replied meekly.

The Lady of Tapiola smiled fondly at the youth before her. She knew the child felt plain and ordinary, but she also knew this was the only one who could complete the task.

The Lady continued to explain the mission. "You will leave our hidden lands in search of a killer. If you do not find him, he will return to us and destroy all that we hold sacred. He will destroy our people and all in our forest. He must not live, and he must not return."

She trembled. "Lady, you would have me hunt... a man?"

Mielikki sighed. "No, Child, not a man. Not any more."

"How will I know him?"

"He carries a unique bow that is enchanted and dangerous. He kills all that he finds," Mielikki answered in disgust.

The youth nodded from her place on the ground.

"You must travel quickly and quietly. Let no one know your purpose. There is only one that you can trust, and I can't feel if he yet exists as I knew him."

The girl was trying to comprehend what she was to do. It was infinitely more frightening than anything she had ever done. In all her life thus far she had been unremarkable. Surely the Lady was making a mistake in choosing her.

She swallowed and asked, "Great Lady, who will this ally be?"

The Lady paused her gliding movement. "His name is Sharak."

The body of the young huntress stiffened at the sound of his name. It was known to her people, but only spoken in the most secret of whispers. "No..." she gasped.

"Yes, my child. You will know him without having to be told. You will feel it in your blood, and you will see it if you are able to look in his eyes."

She nodded blindly, feeling her breath catch in her throat.

"If you are able to find him, you will present him these two packages. He will understand and give you aid if it is within his power." The forest goddess made two wrapped packages appear beside her chosen champion.

"You must go now. Ilmarinen give you safe journey, child."

The huntress felt the Lady stop to touch her on the shoulder before She disappeared.

TO BE CONTINUED...


Vita Brevis, Ars Longa

aikakone

mydlands@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: BeastMaster, its characters and images are the property of Tribune Entertainment, 1999-2002.
This fan fiction story is my own work, aikakone.