Rating: R (Contains very brief, non-detailed, male-male sexual situations at beginning of story.)
Pairings: Dar/Tao, Dar/Tao/Other
Disclaimer: I have no claim upon any of these characters, with the exceptions of Nyokrinn and Demetra, Who are my own creation, as are Their five unnamed children. All other characters in this little tale belong to Tribune Entertainment and
Alliance/Atlantis. I will not be making any money from this story and wrote it purely for entertainment.
If male-male sexual situations/relationships aren't your cup of tea, do yourself and others a favor: Stop and go no further. If you're under 17 years of age, also stop and return when you're of legal age to read this story.
(Note: I welcome this story being archived in Slashnexus and/or stored wherever else writing such as this is deemed appropriate. I also welcome constructive feedback, posted on the Beastmaster slashfic list only, though. No flames, please. Thank you.)
Synopsis: Dar and his lover Tao run to the aid of a defenseless animal who lies at the mercy of King Zad and his Terron soldiers. Someone unexpectedly comes along to assist...
(One Final Note: This story can be read either as a stand-alone or as a mini-sequel to my much longer fic "Meeting the Horned One", which is posted on Malika's web site at https://www.angelfire.com/falcon/stained_glass under the Beastmaster section of her slash fic directory. It is also posted quite a ways back on the Beastmaster slash fic site.)
The Beastmaster and his black-haired Eiron lover walked softly along the leaf and branch-strewn path. Dar led the way, as usual, and Tao followed. Actually, Ruh, the mighty tiger, technically led as he plodded a few paces ahead of the men.
Dar pleasantly felt acutely aware of every step he took. The inside of his behind was especially sensitive from much earlier in the morning when Tao's repeated thrusts, culminating in releases of ecstasy for both the Beastmaster and the Eiron, had left Dar sated yet refreshed.
'Ah, such a way to begin the day,' Dar mused and smiled to himself. He couldn't help but to think of last night as well. He had pleasured Tao but good, he had, boring passionately into the smaller man as the Eiron moaned loudly into the darkness. So, Tao had then made sure to have his full way with Dar at the start of this day. Well, fair was fair. Dar began to chuckle, doing all he could to hold back from bursting out into
Sharak, the immortal eagle circling above the two men, sent forth an image from his eyes into the Beastmaster's, pulling Dar away from his pleasant thoughts. He halted in his tracks. The mighty and last Sula saw before him a wild boar, mouth wide open, surely eliciting plaintive, loud grunts. Her teats were large, heavy with milk. Her young most certainly snuggled in hiding somewhere nearby, helpless like their mother. An arrow had pierced into the boar's left shoulder while another had buried itself into her left flank. Four Terron soldiers, all decked out in their hideous leather and bone armor, were fast approaching her.
"Tao," Dar turned and whispered to his beloved.
"What is it, my love?" Tao queried. He stopped short, almost running into Dar. He too had been lost in thought about the shared passions of the previous night and earlier this morning.
"Terrons-- nearby. They've wounded and captured a wild boar, a mother whose young are not far away from her. Those monsters for men intend to kill and eat her, then most likely find her children and serve them up as a delicacy. I can't let this happen."
"A--alright, Dar. Tell me how I can help. I just don't want us to end up in the same state as the boar at the hands of those Terrons," Tao replied shakily. He knew all too well the horrors of being at the mercy of Terrons.
"Ruh and I will go on ahead. We'll fend the Terrons off. You go down the hillside and hide behind a rock or something, but watch what's going on. That mother boar's going to need you to clean and bandage her wounds-- only like you know best how to do-- that is, if we're not too late."
Dar then sent some thoughts to Ruh and stealthily raced ahead, though not before he released the ferrets Kodo and Podo from his leather hip pouch, letting the two creatures scamper off to safety behind some bushes. Tao took a deep breath and descended down the embankment, doing his best to remain quiet.
The Beastmaster reached the scene of violence, his ears assaulted by squeals of the helpless, wounded animal. Just below the embankment stood the four Terrons over the struggling boar, a tall, expansive tree of wide leaves shading them from the summer morning sun.
"Alright, men, tie her legs, slit her throat, and let's haul the meat back to camp. We'll come back for her little ones later. We're going to have a great roasted feast of a meal tonight-- for a bloody change!" one of the four Terron soldiers grunted loudly.
"I think not," interjected a tall, blond man as he ran in leaps and bounds towards the warriors and their prey.
"Oh, by King Zad's mercy, it's that damn Beastmaster-- again!" shouted another of the Terron men as he struggled to hold down the boar's kicking hind legs.
Intending to make this intrusion brief, one of the four Terrons held up his jawbone throwing axe, took aim, only to find his wrist suddenly immobilized. Ruh pulled the man down to the ground, then cuffed him hard on the head with his mighty paw. There the Terron lay, knocked senseless.
Dar put his white, two-part staff together in one deft move then side-swiped the most outspoken of the four Terrons, the one who had ordered the others to tie up the boar. The leather-clad man fell on his face moments after he'd lunged at the Beastmaster.
This left two very shaken Terrons, who dropped what they were doing and scrabbled up the hill, namely to get away from the tiger. The leader of them soon got up, shook his head from Dar's blow, and also fled.
Tao got up from his crouching position behind a large shrub. Seeing that the coast was clear, the healer-scholar trotted over to the scene of carnage. He dropped his bag and water gourds upon the ground.
"By Xinca and the ancestors! This will not be easy. She's lost a lot of blood, Dar."
"I know, but I-- I trust you can help her, Tao. She never did anything to those Terrons, and it's not like they're desperate, starving men."
"Okay, alright, I'll do what I can," the Eiron replied, kneeling by the black-haired boar, tusks thrusting from out of her mouth. She had grown still, but was still breathing. "Dar, maybe you can tell her, um, not to try and gut me while I help her?"
Dar must have already spoken to the boar, for she did not move while the healer, with both hands, grasped the arrow in her flank and pulled. Dar knelt down by her face and gently lay his large hand over her forehead.
With all the strength he had, Tao released the long arrow, eliciting a squeal from the boar. Still conscious. This was a good sign, Tao assessed. At least the arrows hadn't been poisoned-- probably because her flesh was meant to remain untainted for safe eating.
"Dar, you're closer to the other arrow. Take it out while I attend to the wound from this one here."
Dar did as he was told, pulling the second arrow out of the boar's shoulder with one strong hand, while all the time sending her reassuring thoughts. She squealed again, then grew quiet.
From Dar's touching the sow and mental contact with her, he saw fleeting images from her past. People came forth and set down plates of food filled with assorted vegetables and fruit before her. A garland was placed around her neck. A woman's mouth moved, uttering the wild sow's name. Then, the scene abruptly changed to a small village of thatched roof buildings, all in flames. Yet another change of scene: Trees and shrubs rushing by, almost a blur. She was fleeing for her life.
**Demetra. You are no ordinary boar. You were once worshipped as a great mother goddess by villagers, and now they're all gone, destroyed by the Terrons. Well, I, Dar, will keep on doing everything possible to keep you alive, as will Tao. What he is up to now will make you better.**
**Thank you,** was all Demetra could manage. Her thoughts grew hazy and faint.
The Eiron healer worked quickly, pulling out from his bag containers of ceramic and stone, and items wrapped in assorted dried leaves. This swiftness, concentration, and skill of Tao's never ceased to amaze Dar. It was as if the dark-haired man of knowledge would enter a trance of sheer concentration and energy whenever he set to work with nursing and healing a person or animal. Dar recalled with gratitude the countless times Tao had saved his life from painful wounds with those same hands and brilliant, swift mind.
Soon, the boar's left flank was cleaned with salves and bandaged in leaves and thin vines.
"Alright, now for her shoulder. First, give her this to eat. It's bitter, but tell her she needs it. It will prevent fever-- though, for a creature her size, I'm going to need to gather more moon root and goldenseal before this day is out. Otherwise, we'll surely lose her." Tao handed Dar a small clay pot about half-full with a thick, dark liquid.
Dar looked intently into Demetra's left eye, whilst the right side of her face lay against the ground, and offered her the herbal draught. She licked at it slowly, clearly wincing.
A wide-spread rumbling from the embankment above startled Dar and Tao from their attentions to the task at hand. The Beastmaster looked up to find a long row of Terron warriors on horseback looking down upon the small party of men and animals. Right in the middle of these mounted soldiers, a bald man with a fierce squint to his eyes sat upon his steed. Other rows behind this front one stood at the ready, a horse's "neigh" punctuating the ranks here and there. He dismounted and with a single sweeping gesture, ordered all of his front row of warriors to do the same, which they promptly did.
"Well, well, if it isn't the Beastmaster and his little friend! Trying to steal some dinner from my men I see, eh?" King Zad declared in a deep, gravelly voice and clapped his hands together. He walked down from the trail with several soldiers in tow. "I say, Beastmaster, you really are in a bit of mess now!" Zad stopped and chuckled deeply. "You never learn or give up, do you? Well, doing you and your friend in once and for all will be a fun bonus before we pillage the treasure-rich village just one night's ride from here!"
The battle-scarred king, clad in his leather tunic, pants, and moccasins, walked towards Dar and stopped beneath the wide branches of the large tree. It overlooked a scene of men, cruelty, and care, the latter quality embodied in just four of the participants: the Beastmaster, his lover Tao, the wounded boar, and Ruh the tiger. Zad stood an arm's length from Dar, where he looked the taller, younger man over from head to toe.
"This is your day to die, Beastmaster!" Zad pulled forth a bone dagger from a sheath in his belt.
"No, it shall not be!" thundered a deep voice, vibrating in the ears of everyone and against each plant and tree nearby.
"Whaaat?!" King Zad exclaimed. Thick vines instantly entwined him from ankles to arms then snatched him off his feet. He found himself hanging upside down from one of the branches of the wide-spread tree.
A giant male figure, naked save for a tree bark loincloth, walked slowly forth from behind some bushes. He was bald with a pair of long, thick, goat-like horns which curled forth from out of His smooth forehead and scalp. His massive, muscular form towered easily a few heads above everyone else, including the tall and lithe Beastmaster.
"By the gods, it's Nyokrinn!" Tao managed to utter under his breath before falling back into awe-struck silence.
The nature deity pulled a triplicate-colored flower from out of his loincloth, as if He'd simply grabbed it out of thin air. The flower was easily as large as Dar's hand, one petal a dark purple, another a deep yellow, and the third a scarlet red. With a flourish, Nyokrinn waved it towards the mounted soldiers nearby. A dark blue mist sprayed out of the mysterious bloom, billowing forth up the embankment like a fast-moving thundercloud. Horses neighed and jumped about, bucking off their mounts, which all fell limp to the ground. Not a man moved, Zad's army having instantly plunged into a deep sleep.
Nyokrinn approached King Zad, who dangled in the air upside down like a helpless chicken. The nature god's face met perfectly at the level of the befuddled patriarch's.
"You battle-scarred man. Your rage, fear, and avarice will be your own downfall someday, my child." Nyokrinn calmly blinked his deep green eyes, raised a mighty hand and caressed Zad's leathery cheek.
"Who, who from the depths of hell are you?!" Zad stammered.
"If you do not know by now, then you truly are removed from life, the pulses of the forest and mountains. You go the way of destruction. That is all." He turned away from the red-faced, squirming Zad and approached Dar and Tao.
"It's you, Nyokrinn, oh Horned One!" Dar smiled broadly.
"Yes. It is good to see you both again, and so dutifully helping a great creature of the forest, oh Beastmaster and Tao, healer and truth-seeker." He opened wide his enormous arms and embraced the two men.
For a moment, Dar and Tao bathed in the warmth emanating from the forest god, remembering the mind-altering evening they had spent with Him, now many moons ago. Kissing them each on the forehead, Nyokrinn then pulled away.
"I seemed to have met up with you again not a moment too soon," His voice rumbled forth deeply, though gently.
"Well, yes, we were in quite a fix!" Tao beamed, having regained his wits and usual joviality.
"I shall soon depart, now that the odds have been returned to your favor for a while at least, and now that Great Mother Demetra and Her young are safe-- which you, dear men, did everything you could to help save."
"Wait, Great Horned One, I just have to ask You something. What kind of flower is that and where does it grow? It's properties are amazing and well-worth studying!" The Eiron's curiosity bubbled forth in his characteristic, endearing verbosity.
"My darling little man, always filled with questions," Nyokrinn grinned. "In time, perhaps you will find the growing place of this bloom. I leave your ever-inquisitive mind and soul to lead you to them someday. Here, though, have this one as a token of my gratitude for your deep compassion and dedication to truth." He placed the strangely beautiful flower behind Tao's left ear.
Dar smiled and winked at his lover. "Hmm, quite becoming."
Tao blushed but continued to smile brightly. With the love of his life and the beautiful god Nyokrinn both grinning so lovingly at him, the Eiron found that he couldn't do otherwise.
Nyokrinn turned His attention to the wild sow Demetra. Her five offspring had come out of hiding and nestled against their mother's belly to nurse. He knelt down and stroked the mother boar from head to flank. The air surrounding the forest god, Demetra, and her young grew hazy and rippled like a pond disturbed by a stone thrown into its middle. Then a bright, white light shot forth from out of the Horned One's hand, enveloping Him and the creatures at His feet.
Dar and Tao each reflexively held up an arm over his eyes. They blinked and looked upon the site before them.
Nyokrinn now stood as did a most unusual and beautiful woman by His side. Her height matched His. She looked with large, clear brown eyes at Tao and Dar. Her hair, also a dark brown, flowed in abundance down Her sides and back, over Her robe of brown and yellowed leaves knit together by what appeared to be fine threads like spider webbing. Where the ground ended and Her hair and robe began appeared indistinguishable. Her face, tanned and smooth like the bark of a light brown tree sapling emitted such a serenity that the whole forest grew still and quiet. Even King Zad had stopped struggling, though he had fainted from his head over-filling with blood.
Raising a long-fingered hand, Demetra pointed it at the dangling man. The vines snapped and Zad fell to the ground, still unconscious.
"He shall live today, and for many other days," the transformed nature goddess stated matter-of-factly.
"But, his men shall not awake until our human friends and their animal companions have made good distance between here and wherever they finally arrive for the night," Nyokrinn replied, looking over at Dar, Tao, and Ruh, who had come forth to lie at the Beastmaster's feet.
Sharak circled above and screeched, reminding everyone that he too was a witness to it all. Dar stretched out his leather-clad arm and the eagle promptly alighted upon it.
"Ah, most noble Sharak," Nyokrinn acknowledged the great eagle before continuing. "The soldiers shall awake all tired and lacking of will. The village they were to pillage shall be safe-- for a while longer at least. If Zad tries anything cruel during this cycle of the moon, I shall gladly turn him into something that stays in its place and contemplates life whilst growing leaves."
"Oh, I myself shall not hesitate to turn him into something less lively and pleasing than that," Demetra smiled, blinking Her long lashes at the Beastmaster and his company.
"Ah, that I have no doubt you shall, Demetra my Queen," Nyokrinn turned and looked into the eyes of His eternal consort.
"Enough of humankind has passed the test of the Great Creatrix, Who changed Me into the form of the wild boar I was for several seasons until now." Demetra turned to face Dar and Tao as She continued. "I was to live as a mortal animal amongst people to find out if many were truly good in heart, abiding by nature's ways. Indeed, there are good folk who recognize the divine in all of nature. For many moons, I was venerated and treated well by villagers whose home is now nothing but ashes and burned timbers. Then, I came upon you two, dearest Dar and Tao. Your good deeds for the teeming life in these woods are many. Know that you and your animal friends, so long as you tread the life paths you each have long been called to follow, shall always be loved and watched over by Me and My consort Nyokrinn."
"Indeed. She speaks the truth, my dear Dar and Tao," Nyokrinn added. He smiled broadly, flashing His large, white teeth.
"Hooray, dear Mother!" Cheered one of Demetra's five offspring, unable to remain silent any longer. "Hooray, oh Father and Brother!"
Like his four siblings, he now possessed the form of a human child from the waist up, and the coarse-haired legs of a boar, complete with curling tail and cloven hooves, from the navel on down. He joined hands with his brother and three sisters, their black manes of hair pointing every which way and gleaming in the golden sunlight as they danced around Demetra and Nyokrinn.
Dar looked into the eyes of his eagle friend Sharak, who then leapt off the Beastmaster's arm to fly back up into the sky. The Sula encircled the Eiron's waist with his now freed arm. Tao looked up into the face of his lover who kissed him tenderly.
"Another miracle, my love. And to think the morning started off as just a usual hike along the trail," the scholar-healer said.
"With you, Tao, I can witness and live through anything, including yet another miracle such as this. But then, maybe none of this is anymore a miracle than your twinkling eyes, pleasant ramblings, or the grass beneath our feet."
Meanwhile, Nyokrinn had gathered His and Demetra's dancing children into a huddle. When they came out of it, the five human-boar beings pranced forth towards Dar and the Eiron, each bearing a garland of assorted flowers. Two girls approached Tao and bid him kneel down, which he promptly did.
"For you, from us and our Mother and Father, in gratitude," they chimed in unison. Giggling, they placed the wide wreaths of blooms around Tao's neck, then hopped and danced back over to their parents.
The two boys did the same little ritual with Dar before also returning to their parents' side.
Ruh, not to be left out, received a garland around his wide, furry neck by the fifth child, who stroked her hands through the fur along his cheeks and chin. Ruh closed his eyes and purred.
Nyokrinn and His divine family gave one final look towards Dar, Tao, and Ruh. "Now, my other children and loves, get thee away to safety. Live and love long, oh beautiful men," Nyokrinn finished, smiled broadly yet again, as did Demetra and Her children, who all waved happily at them.
Then, the Horned One, the Queen of Nature, and the five human-animal beings turned away and vanished like a flash of the sun in one's eyes.