Arteris: The Look-Alike

BeastMaster Fan Fiction
by
Julie D. Moncada

Part Two (Conclusion)

Back to Part 1


The Sorceress had a habit of watching Dar. He intrigued her and she wanted the secret of his power. When she saw Dar with this new companion, she could not believe her eyes. Sharak had returned to human form! When he bent to get a drink of water, she took her opportunity to bring him to her. He stood before her now examining his surroundings and she could barely contain her excitement.

“Sharak.”

“Do I know you,” Arteris softly spoke.

“Don’t you remember me,” the Sorceress guardedly said.

“I’m not sure we ever met. Who is Sharak?”

“He is... He was a friend.”

Arteris looked at the blonde woman standing impassively before him. “Are you a sorceress?”

“I am. Tell me who you are.”

“I...I... I am only a simple fisherman.”

“I saw you running from the Terrons and then the Beastmaster came to your aid. Are you special? Maybe I need to keep you for my own, hmm?”

Arteris looked at her and tried to swallow his fear.

The Sorceress looked at him up and down. She had so wanted to believe that this man was her love Sharak come back to her. This man could be him. Every detail reminded her of the lover she once knew, the lover who was cursed to live as an immortal eagle. If it was not Sharak, she could still use his appearance to her advantage. The Sorceress smiled to herself at the plan that was beginning to form.

~*~*~*~

Dar rushed back to the sanctuary as fast as he could. He kept hearing Korine’s screams of pain. He did not know if it was an attack of Terrons in his home or the pain of birth. Either way, the sound gave him no reassurance.

He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw only Korine and Tao. Thankfully there were no Terrons here. They hadn’t defiled his home, and he hoped they never would. His moment of relief was short when he realized that Korine had begun her labor to bring forth her baby.

“Dar!” Tao acknowledged. The stressed Eiron gave his friend a look of panic. “I am no mid wife. I know much about healing and medicines, but I have never helped with a baby!”

“You must! You’re the only one who can.”

“DAAAAARR!” she screamed, panting in pain. “Where... is....Arteris?”

“He, he... stopped by the river.” Dar shot Tao a look of his own distress.

Tao motioned Dar to help make Korine more comfortable. With quick thinking he pulled her against him and sat behind her holding her hands. “You can lean against me. When you... aah!... feel...pain...squeeze my hands.”

“Korine, I need to...uh... see if the baby is coming.” Tao blushed as he moved the material of her skirt.

Still concerned she asked again “Beastmaster, will Arteris return soon? He has to be here. This is our child!”

Feeling full of guilt, he told the woman, “Korine, he was taken by the Sorceress...”

Tao gasped, “The Sorceress?”

Korine screamed from anger and pain, “NOOO!!!” and angrily thrashed her head against the Beastmaster’s chest.

~*~*~*~

“Tell me your name,” the Sorceress commanded softly.

“I am called Arteris. I came from the village of Partha.”

She looked at him, seeming to read his thoughts. “You were a prince of your village, weren’t you? But you’re not there. Why is this?”

“Y...y..yes. How did you know that?” he puzzled.

She waved her hand over the pool of water in the amethyst. Images from his life rushed by as a sweeping river.

“If you can see all this, do I really need to explain? Please, send me back! My wife, Korine, is injured and about to have our baby. Will you help me?”

“Oh, your baby! Let us see.” She waved her hands again over the large amethyst basin and the image of Korine with Dar and Tao appeared. Korine was in the throes of birthing pain. She lay against Dar, firmly squeezing his hand. Tao was before her trying to coax the baby out of its hiding place.

Arteris looked achingly at the images. He needed to be with his beloved. All his position and titles had never meant anything to him. All that was important to him in this world was his Korine and their new child.

“The baby will probably be healthy. It gives her quite a fight to come out,” the Sorceress observed.

“Please, I beg of you. Send me back! I must be with her. Korine is... she is the reason I wake in the morning, the woman who makes me want to be a man of honor. Your Sharak, did he never do this for you,” the fisherman guessed.

“You know nothing of Sharak!”

“No, no... I don’t. Was he a man of honor?”

Hiding her face, the Sorceress replied, “Yes, but he followed me. For what? For love? He was a fool.”

“Oh, never. If he loved you, it must have been worth it for him. Where is he now?”

“He lives a cursed life because of me,” she stared angrily at him.

“He surely must have chosen his own way. Let me choose mine. Send me back to the one I love. If you don’t do it to help me, please do it for my wife or for my child, or maybe... for your Sharak.”

Arteris stood before her begging with his eyes. The Sorceress looked back at him, her heart aching. He was the very appearance of her Sharak in flesh. If she just had the thought of a spell, he would be hers. The Sharak she knew would never approve, though, and she knew it. She could never bear the thought of losing the love of the real Sharak.

Lifting up her chin with determination, she addressed the expecting young father before her. “I will let you return, Arteris, but mind you well that everything comes with a price. There will be a time very soon that I will call on you for a favor. You will comply to what I ask, no matter what, when or where. Do you understand?”

“Oh, yes, anything! Thank you, Sorceress!”

“Do not forget. There will be a time when I will call on you again.”

She waved her hand and he was gone. The Sorceress walked into the depths of her aerie as Arteris stumbled back to the beastmaster’s sanctuary.

~*~*~*~

He was disoriented, but Arteris knew he was near the beastmaster’s home. He listened and heard his Korine, crying out in pain. He rushed in the direction of the sound and came the small clearing. He took a moment feel the impact of the scene before him. Korine was there against the beastmaster with his healer friend Tao helping the baby.

Dar looked up. “Arteris!”

Korine, breathing heavily, turned to look at her husband. “Dar said a sorceress...took you.” She tensed as another contraction overpowered her.

“My love, do you think sorcery could keep me apart from you? Never!” he smiled, rushing to her and kissing her hand. He stroked her face. “It will only be a little longer. Be strong!”

Tao watched for the child and gave a whoop of triumph after the next contraction. The baby’s head could be seen. “Keep pushing. Your baby is coming!”

Arteris smiled lovingly at his wife. “I know you can do it” he encouraged.

She nodded and looked to Tao.

“When you have your next contraction, push with all your strength,” the Eiron commanded.

Very soon her contraction came again, and Dar knew well the pain of it. He wondered if he would ever use his hands again. That thought quickly vanished from his mind as the sound of a baby’s first cry filled the forest. Korine slumped against Dar and Arteris sighed and looked at her in relief.

Tao held up the baby like a delicate prize. “It’s a boy. A healthy baby boy!” He handed the child to the proud parents whose faces were glowing.

Tao smiled his lop-sided smile and commented to Dar. “At least this one is not a chameleon child who will vanish when he is set down!”

~*~*~*~

Korine, Arteris and their new son stayed with Dar and Tao in the sanctuary for a few days. The family needed to build strength for travel. It was during that time that Dar heard Korine singing a lullaby to her child. He smiled to himself. ‘This must be the voice he first loved,’ the beastmaster thought to himself.

An evening about three days after the child’s birth, the new friends sat around the camp fire. Tao’s Eiron curiosity finally could not be controlled. “What will you name the baby,” he asked.

Arteris paused and looked to his wife Korine. She nodded, and then he turned to the men and said “Jason”.

“Well, that is a nice name,” remarked Tao, giving Dar a look like a proud uncle.

“It means ‘healer’ in an ancient language,” he said.

“We thank you for your hospitality, gentlemen,” Korine said. “If not for you, our child would not be safe. We are eternally in your debt.”

“What will you do now,” Dar queried.

“We will continue our journey and hope to find a place to call our own. Maybe there is a village that will accept us, or maybe we will always have to live alone. It will not matter greatly. Korine and I will always have each other.”

“I wish you a safe journey,” Tao said.

“Thank you,” replied Arteris. “And now I think my wife and I should sleep.”

Arteris covered Korine and their new son Jason with a blanket, and lay himself down beside his new family. He fell into a truly restful sleep, one of the first in ages.

~*~*~*~

The next morning came and the new family was on their way. As they packed their meager belongings, Tao gave them a few gifts.

“Dar and I have some nuts and berries so you can eat on your journey.”

“Thank you, Dar. Thank you, Tao” Korine smiled to her new friends.

“Oh, oh, that’s not all” the Eiron said excitedly bringing out another gift to show them.

“What is this?” Korine suspiciously eyed the round disc of woven tree leaves.

“It is a toy for your child. You can throw it through the air and it will fly. See?” Tao demonstrated by tossing the disc over to Arteris.

“Hmm, fascinating. Thank you, Tao,” the young father laughingly said.

“Safe journey, friends. Ruh will help guide you safely out of the forest,” Dar said as he shook their hands.

“Thank you. Good-bye!” the couple waved as they turned to go.

Suddenly a woman stepped out of shimmering air to stand before the new family.

“Sorceress!” Dar rushed to stand protectively in front of his new friends.

“Beastmaster, be still,” she said waving her hands. Dar stood frozen in a spell. Tao, knowing the spells of the Sorceress hesitated to speak.

“I came to give you a present, my dear.” The Sorceress stood before Korine.

“You took my Arteris,” Korine said cautiously.

“Yes, and I can do it again, but I gave him back. Now for you, I give you this gift. Be happy with the one you love because life and love are both fleeting.”

The Sorceress raised her hands and clapped. The very air molecules around Korine seemed to rearrange themselves, and then as suddenly as it came, it was still. She looked up and down and could not believe her eyes. She had been made whole! No more did she have a gnarled claw for a hand, or would she have an uneven walk for one leg being so shorter than the other. She touched her face. Yes, she was whole as she had never before been.

The Sorceress laughed, proud of her work, and disappeared back into the air. When she left, her spell on Dar was broken and he was free to move.

Dar stared. “Korine! You’re, you’re....”

“As beautiful as you ever were,” Arteris finished, kissing his wife.

“Well, imagine that,” Tao mused.

The new family and friends again said their good-byes with smiles and laughter. Finally they left to follow Ruh through the forest.

Near the edge of the forest, Arteris heard the disembodied voice of the Sorceress. “Remember, Fisherman. You owe me a favor. I will call on you again and you will be ready, any time, any where. Do not forget.”

His spine tingled as he looked at his family. No, he would not forget.


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