Arteris: The Look-Alike

BeastMaster Fan Fiction
by
Julie D. Moncada

Part One


They were running through the forest as they had so many times before. Korine and Arteris never were in one place for too long because they were usually driven out by people who would not accept them. They had to leave their village of Partha because of their love and had been on the run ever since. This time was different, though. Korine was pregnant and very soon to give birth.

The two men chasing them were riding horses and had spiked clubs. On their clothing were gruesome arrangements of bones. These must be the Terrons, Arteris thought. Arteris tried to hurry his wife as much as he could, but she was too heavy with child. She did not move fast at all.

Korine could see another warrior coming after them for another pass. Why did they always have to be hunted or rejected, she wondered. She tried to move away, but her foot caught under a root of one of the tall trees. She fell forward into the rocks and grass.

Arteris stood in front of her trying to protect her from the two men who wished to strike them both down and kill them. All Arteris had for protection was a walking staff they had been using. He could only seem to block the blows, but he was bruised and bloodied with every pass. Eventually the men would wear down his defense.

~*~*~*~

Dar and Tao had been gathering supplies from the forest. The forest always amazed Tao because it had so many gifts and surprises to it. Some of them he knew, and some of them were shown to him by Dar. Tao liked the fruits and berries, the flint rocks, and some of the plants he found could be used for medicines.

Ruh was walking near them. The tiger would come and go as he pleased. It was always Ruh’s way. Ruh decided to go investigate more of the underbrush of the forest.

Just then Dar heard a woman’s scream. He looked up and tried to find the sound. Dar mentally asked Ruh if he could see anything. Ruh let Dar see through his eyes that a pregnant woman was on the ground with a man in front of her trying to defend her from two Terrons.

Dar ran to help her with Tao running behind him.

~*~*~*~

When they had come to the part of the forest where Arteris and Korine were, Dar drew out his staff to challenge the Terrons.

“This seems to be an uneven fight, don’t you think?”

“Beastmaster,” spat one of the Terrons, “this has nothing to do with you.”

“Oh, but it does. You can’t go hurting innocent people.”

Dar took his long staff and used it to knock a Terron off his horse. When the man tried to get up, he hit him in the head with the knotted end of the staff.

The other Terron, seeing the beastmaster, went over to try to kill this much better prey. The Terron tried to ride by Dar and attack him with his club. Dar anticipated the move, and used the flat end of his staff to knock this one off the horse.

“You Terrons really need to learn how to ride horses,” teased Dar.

“Shut up and fight, Beastmaster!”

Dar disconnected his staff into two parts and started hit the men with each end. One fell down, but when he got up, Dar kicked him squarely in the jaw.

The Terrons looked to one another and nodded that it was time to retreat. Before Dar could get another chance to inflict injury, they ran away from the beastmaster and the two they had been hunting for sport.

~*~*~*~

After the Terrons went away Dar turned to the man and offered his hand.

“My name is Dar and this is my friend, Tao.”

“Thank you for your help. I am Arteris and this is my wife Korine. She is pregnant and we need the help of a midwife or a shaman. Do you know where we can find one?”

“Dar, she twisted her ankle when she fell over the root,” Tao pointed. “Even if we could find a midwife, she wouldn’t be able to walk there.”

“You can stay with us and we can try to fix Korine’s ankle. I am sure we can try to find a midwife for her,” Dar offered.

“That would be most appreciated,” Arteris said.

“Here, take this. It’s willow bark and it will help with the pain,” Tao offered Korine.

“Dar, we will have to make something so we can bring her back to the sanctuary. I can lace some sticks together for a travois. We can lay Korine on it , and pull it behind us.”

“I don’t want to hurt my wife,” Arteris warned.

“It is the best way we can get her to safety,” Tao said and Dar agreed with him.

When Tao had fashioned the sticks together, they were ready to carry Korine on them. Arteris took off his shirt and put it over the sticks to give her some comfort.

~*~*~*~

They traveled on to the sanctuary. Korine said very little. The willow bark Tao had given her helped ease the pain, but most of it was still there. She tried to sleep to block away the pain. Maybe when she awoke it would be gone.

Tao tried to look at the sleeping woman. She was a study of opposites. Korine was deformed on one side of her body, yet the other side appeared as a normal woman. On her deformed side, Tao noticed that her leg seemed to be shorter and her hand was withered and gnarled like a claw. The bones on that side of her face were too large causing her mouth to be open and her eye to be hidden. He could see bare patches of her scalp where hair was missing.

Tao swallowed hard and tried not to stare, for it was rude. Terrons had showed him true ugliness. While this woman might be hard to look upon, there was much more danger in the world that hid itself behind a beautiful face.

Tao then spied a glance at Korine’s husband Arteris. He looked familiar, yet Tao did not know why. Arteris was tall and strong. He had short dark hair and warm eyes with wrinkles at the corners that had been earned through many smiles.

The couple in their appearances seemed so different. There must have been something deep that bound them together. Love was not always rational, but Tao knew it was a powerful force.

~*~*~*~

When they had gotten Korine to the sanctuary, Tao started his medicine. Korine had a twisted ankle with cuts and bruises that were surely inflicted by the Terrons. Tao had learned a few tricks in his travels that could hopefully help her.

Arteris looked on anxiously as Tao treated Korine’s wounds.

“You can relax. I trust him with my life,” Dar assured him. “Why don’t you come with me to gather fire wood? You will be of more use to her that way than to stay here and worry.”

Arteris nodded his agreement and walked with Dar to find fire wood.

After they had gathered some sticks Dar asked, “Why were you running from the Terrons?”

“Korine and I are different. We always have been. Our own village wouldn’t accept us, so we left. We haven’t had a home since then. We roam from place to place trying to find somewhere to call home.”

“But why? Is it because of something you had done?”

“Yes. I loved her. Korine was the village outcast because she was born deformed. Shortly after she was born many bad things started to happen. Animals died, and crops were poisoned. The old superstitious ones blamed it all of Partha’s troubles on her. She was permitted to live, but just barely. I know her family beat her.”

“Because she was born deformed?” Dar asked incredulously.

“Yes. You can see when you look at her that she isn’t like the rest of us.” Arteris sighed and said, “the stupid are easily scared by what they do not understand.”

“How were you able to meet her?”

“I had gone fishing day when I was still a child. I was alone and walking to the edge of the water. I heard a twig snap and there she was,” Arteris remembered with a smile. “I think she was as surprised to see me as I her. She was about to bathe in the water.”

“What did you do?”

“I stayed. At first I wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was only curiosity, but I could never stay away. Then I began to know the person inside. Do you know that Korine has the most beautiful singing voice?”

Dar smiled back at the comment.

“I became a very good fisherman that summer,” Arteris winked.

~*~*~*~

Dar and Arteris were done collecting wood for the fire and were on their way back to the sanctuary. Arteris suddenly felt very thirsty and walked over to the river to get a drink from the flowing waters. As he was about to put the water to his lips, he was caught up in a purple typhoon of magic and taken away.

Dar watched in surprise. “Sorceress!,” he growled.

Before Dar would build rage against the Sorceress, he heard a woman’s scream coming from the sanctuary. Korine! Dar made great haste back to the sanctuary so he could try to help her.


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