Disclaimer: Beastmaster doesn't belong to me. Don't know to whom it belongs. Kyn'raem and her friends are mine. Want to use her? Ask!

Authors note: About the herbal techniques mentioned here. I have done my research, but there could be a mistake. This story takes place after the episode 'The Charmeleon 'in season 1. Italics mean that Dar and the animals are conversing telepathically.

When a star reached too high
Eva

Dar enjoyed the forest with just the animals.

Normally Tao was with him and with him his chatter, but Tao had stayed behind the small village they had visited last. Some man with a weird invention was there and Tao wanted to study it closer. He and Dar had agreed to meet each other in a few days in Tanora, just on the border of the Mydlands.

The forest was usually silent except for the sounds of birds, insects and various other animals. Suddenly Dar stopped. The animals had gone silent.

He reached for his staff, but arrows seemingly coming from nowhere hit him in the thigh and in his shoulder. He could hear horse hooves and suddenly something exploded in his head. Then everything became black.

***

Kyn'raem clucked with her tong, signaling to her horse to stop. Only having been out here to hunt, she had suddenly heard loud male shouts and sounds of something hard hitting flesh.

Kyn'raem was a tall woman with long dark, tied back in a single braid and dark blue eyes. She wore a short leather skirt, a sleeveless leather top and boots reaching her knee. A quiver of arrows hung on her hip and a bow hung on her saddle. Around her neck hung a hanger. It was made from amythist, rose quartz and turquoise, caputured in bone.

Quickly locating the sounds, she grabbed her bow and placed an arrow on the string. She signalled her horse to gallop. Directing her horse with her legs, seat and voice, she quickly arrived on to the scene.

Her arrows hit before the men knew what happened to them. Kyn'raem picked her targets carefully. She didn't want to kill anyone, just send them running away.

After driving the men away, she jumped of Dalisha, her black mare, and kneeled besides the man lying on the ground. At first she checked his vital signs, finding that he was unconscious and his breathing and heartbeat were slowly but steady.

Her hands glided over his body, searching for fractures. She encountered a couple of cracked ribs, but what worried her more were the arrow wounds and the bump and the back of his head. She understood that the attackers had hit him with a club or something to knock him out. The attackers had already removed the arrows for some reason, but the blood was still flowing freely. Taking a bag from her saddle, she quickly selected a few herbs which helped to stop the bleeding and bound the wounds. Finally she wrapped his ribs tightly.

She needed to get him to her cabin, where she had the appropriate means to take care of him. Kyn'raem didn't like to use her abilities, but she didn't know another way. She spread her arms and lifted them up. Although she was out of practice, the man's body obeyed her command and floated over to her horse and draped over Dalisha's back. Kyn'raem bound the man's weapon on the back of her saddle and finally settled self on the horse. Holding the man carefully she pushed her heals in the horses flank and Dalisha brought them home.

***

Arrived at the cabin she levitated the man on to her bed. The young woman poked up the fire and filled the kettle with water to make hot water. She selected some herbs that worked disinfecting and started to prepare a solution from it. Also she gathered the herbs she needed to make a compress.

Kyn'raem stirred it for a moment, then placed it on a small table by her bedside. From a shelf she took some absorbing cloth, a few rolls of bandage linen, needle and treath and pot of calendula salve. Also placing this on the small table, she could finally get to work.

She gently took of his boots, but the leather harnass around his torso she had cut away. She started with the make shift bandage on his thigh. Removing it, she wet some absorbing cloth with the antiseptic solution. She cleaned out the wound, placed two or three stitches and she applied the compress.

Kyn'raem repeated the procedure on his shoulder and then moved on to take care of the injured ribs. She removed her first wrappings, then started applying the calendula salve for the bruises. Then she took fresh wrappings, carefully placing around them his torso.

She was putting salve on the remaining bruises, when the man before her started moaning and moving a bit. Kyn'raem placed a hand on the uninjured shoulder to keep him calm. "Calm down. It's okay."

Finally clear hazel eyes looked in her dark blue ones. "Who are you? Where am I?"

"My name is Kyn'raem, but they call me Kyn. You're in my cabin. You were attacked and sustained quite some injuries. I am just taking care of you."

"My name is Dar. What."

Kyn'raem stopped moving for a moment, the name clicking in her head. "I have heard of you. Arrow injuries on you thigh and shoulder, a few cracked ribs, some other bruises."

A small smile appeared on Dar's face, but then it changed in to a pain filled expression when he tried to get up.

".and probably a concussion. Take it easy. You were hit on head. Just lie back down. I will get you something for the pain." She took another bowl of hot water and added some hop and other painkilling herbs. When the tea was finished, she filtered it. She kneeled by at the bedside. "Drink some of this."

Kyn'raem smiled a bit when several minutes later Dar's face relaxed and that he went back to sleep. She finally finished applying the calendula salve and covered him up with a blanket. She didn't want to, but she was forced to go outside to take care of Dalisha and to refill her water supply.

***

The night had passed calmly. Dar had not awakened since the tea Kyn had given him. She had to replace his bandages once.

However, when Kyn'raem awoke that morning Dar was shivering from a high fever. Kyn cursed softly. She knew she had treated the wound correctly, but that the arrows had been poisoned. Immediately she knew who his attackers had been.

Damned warriors of her home city.

Warriors of the city where she was born dipped their arrow points in a special essence from a plant which caused high fevers. Even if you got a small cut when you grabbed an arrow to shoot, you would have high fever the next morning. She herself didn't use the essence, but.

Kyn put some water to boil, in the meantime changing her clothing from her nightgown into an embroidered linen skirt and shirt. She also gathered some herbs which helped by a high fever, prepared some new disinfection solution and selected a few pieces of meat so she could make some bouillon.

When the herbal tea and disinfection solution were ready, Dar had woken up. Kyn kneeled down by his bedside. "How are you feeling?" she asked softly.

"Like a stampede ran over me."

"I can imagine. You caught a high fever. I have to change your bandages." She started with his thigh. When she dabbed the area, she saw him wince. "Sorry." She also took care of her shoulder, gave him some of the anti- fever medicine and applied new calendula salve.

***

"Where are you, Beastmaster? Why can't I seem to find you anywhere?" the Sorceress murmured. She was searching with her scrying water bowl. "Is someone protecting you?"

Closing her eyes once more, she refocused herself. She focused on all she knew of him. Slowly an image started to shimmer in appearance.

It was the image of Dar lying on a bed, with a woman who was taking care of him. Suddenly the woman turned around and the Sorceress saw her dark blue eyes. They were wide open and she was looking around as if she was searching something.

Then the woman stared her in the eyes, right from the bowl and her mouth formed words. "I don't know who you are, but I suggest you stop watching now."

The Sorceress let the image disappear for now, but she would return when she had come up with a good protection.

***

Kyn groaned. 'Great. A serious wounded man I can handle. People hunting me I can handle. But I can't use a sorcerer of sorceress watching over my shoulder and eventually betraying me." She thought

She had taken care of the wounds and Dar was calmly sleeping again. She glanced at him and saw that he wouldn't wake up for some time.

Thinking for a moment she knew what she could do. She knew what she could do, but just like when she levitated Dar yesterday, it could show her position to her pursuers, endangering not only her life, but that of the sick man under care also. But a sorcerer was more dangerous.

Glancing down at her cloths she judged that these were okay for what she wanted to do. But her hair and face required some work. Grabbing a bone comb and pins and two leather cords she made two braids and wound them around her head. Then she took thee little cans with face paint. Circling her eyes with black paint and painting her lips red she wore the traditional daily face paint of a woman of her home city. But the white stripes she applied to the rest of her face showed what she really was.

Finally having the face paint ready, she opened a small shrine. Inside was a statue of a pale woman with black hair and emerald green eyes. She wore flowing white robes and a silver tiara. Kyn lit some sage and placed a small sacrifice before the Goddess. She kneeled down and touched the ground with her forehead to show respect. Then she sat down with crossed legs. "I beg you, Yesmyria, help me to protect the man under my care." Closing her eyes, she took deep, even breaths and let the energy build.

When the energy level was high enough she threw her arms up with a screech of an eagle and let them fell down. Her hands touched the ground and the energy was released, forming a protective shield around the cabin. It protected them from looks of most sorcerers.

*** Dar was drowning in fire, he was certain of it. It surrounded him, burned his skin, and no matter how hard he fought to escape it, it threatened to consume him. "Dar." a female voice urged over the flames. "Dar, please, drink this." Dar felt a cup placed against his dry lips and he turned away. Whatever it was, it was certain to burn. He knew it. "Dar, you must drink." The voice was firm and commanding. The cup was placed at his mouth again and Dar couldn't pull away. Something held his head firmly. A drop of liquid spilled on Dar's lips and it was cold, icy. Suddenly all Dar wanted was what the cup contained. He opened his mouth and drank the contents greedily. "That's it. Drink it all up, that's right."

Rain fell in the fiery world Dar was in. It doused the flames inside him and he felt something cool and wet soothe his skin from the outside. He was walking in the rain. He sighed in pleasure. He walked across the damp grassy field and held his face to the rain, eyes closed.

***

Kyn held the cup to Dar's lips. "Dar. Dar, please, drink this." she urged. But Dar would have nothing of it. He weakly tried to turn his face away. Kyn'raem put her hand under his head and tried again. "Dar, you must drink." She said more firmly. Dar lurched again and a drop of the cup's contents fell onto his lips. To Kyn's immense relief, the liquid seemed to get a response and Dar drank thirstily. "That's it." she said with relief evident in his voice. When the cup was empty, Kyn once again tried to cool Dar's burning skin with a wet cloth.

During the day the fever hadn't become too high, but when the sun went down, the fever started to rise. And the man under her care was plagued by feverish dreams.

Kyn had gotten some cool water and bathed his face, chest and arms with a wet cloth. She also had mixed a somewhat more potent anti-fever potion.

***

The next four days Kyn battled with the fever. In the morning's the fever became less and Dar woke up and he was clear enough so he could eat some bouillon. But in the evening the fever rose again and most of the time he talked to people she didn't know.

***

Kyn'raem woke up from the horse cries that echoed in the small chamber.

Quickly she stood up form the furs she had placed on the ground so she could sleep comfertably. She padded over to her bed and placed her hand on the shoulder off the twit-ching man's under her care.

She could wake him, but he needed his rest. But she knew other ways and plunged her hands in the swirling energies around Dar and managed to transfer enough calming feelings that a peacefull breathing took the place of the horse cries where she had woken up from.

***

Kyn did what she could. But with all her temple training in healing she had had she didn't know what to do. Back there she would have had her sisters to help. Continued taking care of a wounded man was starting to take its toll.

***

"What's wrong, Sorceress? Can't you get an image of the Beastmaster?"

"Indeed, Ancient One. Someone has been shielding him and I can't break trough it. And his companion isn't with Dar."

"Then seek among them who can fight you." With a whoosh the man had disappeared and the Sorceress sighed.

"He is of no use in such a case." Marching back to her bowl she started search him again.

***

Tao had been searching Dar in Tanora for two full days and no one had seen him. There weren't even rumours.

The sun was setting and he set of to the last place he knew where they might have some news. The main temple of Yesmyria.

The temple was located in open spot in the forest. One large building with a ring of smaller huts surrounding it. Tao knew that their lived the children of Yesmyria. Maidens and priestesses who were chosen when they five years old.

Before he could reach the temple an eagle landed on his shoulder and a tiger ran before him. "Ruh, Sharak, do you know where Dar is?"

He looked at Sharak and he seemed to nod. Then Sharak flew up and he started fly towards the forest. Tao followed him and Ruh ran after them.

***

Tao emerged on a small open spot in the woods. There was a small cabin. A black horse was grazing around it.

Sharak screeched and landed on the roof and Ruh sat down for the door. Tao looked at them. "Is he here?"

The animals didn't answer, so Tao just walked over to the door. He knocked softly on the door. He heard some rustling and the door opened. Only he wasn't greeted by a face, but an arrow on bow.

Tao immediately lifted his hands. "I am not here to hurt you. I am just searching for my friend."

The woman in the door opening lowered her bow, but the string was still strung. "What is your name? And who is your friend?"

"My name is Tao. My friend is named Dar."

The woman in the door smiled sadly. "Then you have come to right place. Come in." The woman put her bow away.

Tao stepped inside and looked around. On the wall to the left were some shelves with a worktable under it. The work table was filled with bowls, a mortar and several other objects. In a corner burnt a fire and a copper kettle was above it. The wall to the right held a small shrine and several hooks where clothes and several kinds of other equipments hung. Baskets stood on the ground. But his attention was caught by the bed by the last wall.

On the bed lay a man, bathing in sweat. He face was ashen. And he was tossing and turning, murmuring in his sleep.

The woman walked over to the man and sat down on the head end of the bed. She gently lifted his head and placed on her lap. Then she reached over to a bowl standing by her and took a wet cloth. She started dabbing his face. "Would you mind handing me the bowl over there?"

It took Tao a minute to realize that the woman was speaking to him. He grabbed the bowl and walked over to the woman and handed her the bowl. He handed it to her and she started giving small sips.

Tao saw the man's face. "Dar!!! What happened?"

The woman smiled again sadly. "My name is Kyn'raem, but call me Kyn. I was hunting five days ago when I found a group of men attacking him. I chased them away and brought him here so I could care for his injuries. He was hit by two poisoned arrows and those caused the fever."

"Will he be okay?"

"I don't know. He is weakening fast, Tao. I have been giving him my most potent medicines, but they are losing their effect." Kyn answered.

"What have you been giving him? I am not unfamiliar with the ways of healing."

Kyn quickly gave a description of what she had done.

Tao shook his head. "That's exactly what I would have done. Still, I have to ask. Is there something I can do?" Tao asked anxiously.

Kyn sat there, thinking for a moment. "Actually, I know of one more medicine I can try. It's a very ancient recipe form my home. But for that I need a plant which grows a mile away from here. All you can do is stay with him, so I can go and get the plant. I will take me only a short while on Dalisha."

"Of course."

Kyn stood up and handed Tao the cloth she had been using. "It's not been helping much with the fever anymore, but he has been calmer when you cool his skin." Kyn moved to change her long linen skirt. She had already been wearing her leather top, but now she choose to wear the same outfit as she had worn of the day she had found Dar. She pulled her hair back and placed her quiver around her hip.

Five minutes later Tao heard a clicking sound outside and the sound of horse hooves.

***

Kyn easily lead Dalisha to the place where the plants grew.

Dalisha had been a bit afraid of the tiger sitting outside, but so long it stayed on his place she could handle it. Arrived at location, she quickly jumped of Dalisha and started to dug out several large plants with dark green leaves and very light green stems.

She was glad Tao had arrived. This potion was the last one she could make. If something could help it was this. It was a slightly dangerous potion, but if this didn't work she would have to take him to her home city where her former sisters could heal him.

Even if it would cost her own life.

Another thing was the pain the Beastmaster kept inside him. He had called out for so many people in his feverish dreams. The times she had been in contact with the energies flowing around him.

It was difficult to pull it away from it, certainly for a person trained in this as she was.

***

Tao calmly dabbed the cloth on his friends face. "You really are having bad luck now, haven't you? I just let you go out of my sight for a couple of days and you end up like this."

A screech sounded and Tao looked over to the window. "See, even Sharak is agreeing with me."

"Any change?" Kyn entered the cabin with the bow in one hand, a basket with herbs in her other.

"No. You're back quickly." Tao answered.

"Didn't I say so? I am gonna make the potion." Kyn walked over to her working table and started cutting the plants in little pieces. She replaced the big kettle with a great copper bowl. She poured water in it and waited till it was boilling. In the meantime she gathered the other herbs from her shelves. From the different little bowls she had set down she started to sprinkle the ingredients over the boiling water. Finally all the ingredients were added.

"That doesn't smell too well." Tao commented.

"The same goes for the taste." Kyn waited until the color was a deep red. Then she dipped a small bone cup in the fluid. "Let's see if he wants to drink some."

She sat down by Dar's bedside and lifted his head. Before she brought the cup to the man's lips she raised her eyes to heaven and said softly: "I could use a bit help here, Yesmyria." Then she gave Dar the medicine.

***

The woman above the white scrying bowl listened to the plea of the priestess. "Let's see what we can do about that."

She gently waved her hand over the bowl and waited for the things that would happen.

***

The rain had been becoming softer and softer in the passing time. It hardly quenched the fires anymore. He had vague memories of a woman who gave him something to drink.

He was lying on the ground, exhausted. He had been battling the fires that raged around him, on and off for what seemed like years. Right now all he wanted was to sink into the blackness that beckoned just beyond him. But something kept him from letting go. He gazed up at a tangle of branches above his head and tried to pin down what it was. He wondered how suddenly he had gotten into this forest, and why the ground was so soft. The branches above him were abundant with cool green leaves and he could hear them rustling in a soft breeze. "Dar." they whispered, "Hang on, Dar."

Hang on to what, Dar wondered. He saw a movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head, unable to move any more than that. Someone came toward him. Someone familiar.

"Kyra," Dar croaked with his throat raw and sore.

"Dar," Kyra said with a smile. "You must hold on for a little while longer."

"I'm so tired..." Dar whispered, tears running down his face.

"I know, Love, I know. But you've got to be strong. You've got so much left to do in your life. And people are waiting for you to return. You have a task to do. And I have been waiting so long to be with you, Dar. Don't leave me now." Kyra started drifted away.

"Kyra!" Dar yelled. "Kyra, don't leave me!"

"Sleep, Dar. Sleep and all will be well." Kyra was almost gone.

"Kyra!" Dar cried, sobs welling up in his chest. "Please! Come back!"

"I love you, Dar. Sleep now. Sleep"

Kyra was gone. Dar cried uncontrollably, sobs shaking his aching body. Strong arms held him and he buried himself in their warm embrace. A hand gently stroked his hair and the soothing motion calmed him. The sobs subsided and Dar fell into a deep, dreamless, healing sleep.

***

Kyn and Tao waited anxiously. Regularly Kyn gave Dar one cup of the red medicine.

"When should it start to work?" Tao asked.

"It depends on how much strength he has left. It also should help with the wounds."

"Kyra!" Dar suddenly cried. "Please! Come back!"

Tao and Kyn were shocked when he started to sob.

"I have never seen him cry before..." Tao murmured, almost silent for once.

Kyn didn't say anything. She just gathered the crying man in her arms and started stroking his hair. Her soothing calmed him down and he fell into a calm sleep.

***

His ribs were still aching somewhat and the same could be said about his thigh and shoulder, but his head was finally clear.

"Feeling better?" a voice asked right beside him.

Dar turned his head to the right to find a widely smiling Tao. "You could say that. What happened?"

"Kyn'raem told me that you had a high fever from poisoned arrows. And that she had quite a battle to keep you in this world. I just arrived here yesterday. Sharak and Ruh guided me here. "

"Are they still." Dar's voice croaked.

Tao reached out for a cup filled with water, helped Dar to sit up a bit and held the cup at his lips. Dar drunk thirstily, the cool water calming his troth.

"What were you saying?"

"If they are still here. And where is Kyn?"

"Kyn is still asleep. And there are Ruh and Sharak with the ferrets." The tiger had entered the room, Sharak sitting on his head, Kodo and Podo by his side.

Dar looked at the animals, making contact with them. 'I will be okay.'

'Just take it easy, young one. The priestess has gone trough enough trouble to keep away from death.' Ruh husky voice rumbled in his head.

'Take you time to recover, Dar. There is more than enough food here.' Podo said.

Dar wanted to laugh at Podo's comment, but instead let out a large yawn.

'Go to sleep youngling. Your body still has a long way to go. We will speak with you later.' Sharak said gently.

***

"Awake again?"

Dar jumped slightly when Kyn's voice surprised him. He had again woken up at the end of the afternoon. "What do you think?" he replied.

"You can expect to be tired a lot for the next couple of days. Your body took quite a beating. Speaking of beating, I need to check upon your wounds." Kyn quickly unwrapped the bandages from thigh and shoulder. "They are healing nicely, but be careful for a few days when you move that arm and leg. How are your ribs feeling?"

"Not much trouble."

"Does is still hurt, Dar?" Kyn said.

"They ache a bit."

"That's what I wanted to hear. Well, the bruises are fading away. I would say that you're going to be fine if you take a lot of rest."

"Thanks, Kyn." Dar seemed lost in thought for a moment. "Where do you come from, Kyn? Where did you learn all of this?"

Kyn sat back. 'I should have expected that question.' she thought. "I think I can tell you my story, but only if you promise to answer some of my questions."

"That's a deal."

"I will wait for you friend. Otherwise I am telling everything twice."

And if he had smelled something interesting Tao appeared with mugs with some hot broth. He handed them out. "I heard something about a story where you came from."

"And let me guess. You already have an idea where I come from."

"I think you come from Tanora. I heard you asking Yesmyria for help. And Tanora and surrounding villages are the only places where they honor her. And looking at your knowledge about healing, I think you are a temple priestess."

Kyn'raem was silent for a few moments, then started laughing. "Where did you find this guy?" she asked Dar. When he only smiled, Kyn started to speak. "You are right, Tao. I come from Tanora and I learned to heal in the temple. But I am not a temple priestess anymore. I ran away four years ago and have been hiding here since then."

"Why.?"

"I was just getting to that part. We are chosen to become a temple maiden when you are five years old. We are taken away from our parents and we come to live in the temple. You go trough several phases. And in these phases we get educated in the legends, the ceremonies and the other sacred knowledge. Also we learn to use our mage abilities. And finally we learn to use a weapon, in my case the bow, and a trade. That could be healing, one of the arts, cooking, teaching, taking care of animals and many other things. I choose to be a healer."

"Mage abilities?" Tao asked.

"You could call it a kind of magic, but it's very different from the magic that sorcerers use. Around every object is an energy field. We call it the aura. In living beings the aura is generally stronger then in objects, but. well you understand what I mean. Mages can sense and work with that energy. There are many possibilities with mage magic, but there are some vast differences with sorcerers' magic. For one, it's far less powerful. And second, sorcerers draw their power from things around them while mages only can use energy from themselves. The amount what you can do depends on your own energy. Most people don't come any further than making contact with other peoples aura and sensing what's in them and influencing that somewhat." Kyn chuckled. " But I can do more. It's actually how I got you here, Dar. But levitating you on my horse. And we are currently shielded form the most sorcerers scrying us."

Kyn chuckled again. "But now I am going in a very different direction. When we are fourteen, fifteen we are initiated. How, there I am not allowed to speak of. All I can say that it includes a vision quest. We become full priestesses. And then the problems started for me. Every winter one of us is sacrificed, usually one of the newly initiated priestesses. We believe that Yesmyria has three daughters. One is the Eternally Unknown, one is Lady Curupira, guardian of the animals and the last is her Little One. But Damion, the Dark One steals the Little One every winter and sends her back to Earth to be reborn as a new child. And it's the temples duty to replace the Little One. The priestess sacrificed lives one year as Yesmyria's Little One, is stolen and she will be reborn. But on my vision quest Yesmyria appeared to me. She didn't want any daughters anymore, because not the worthiest ones were chosen, but the ones the Mother Priestess wanted to get rid of. I was told to keep it a secret for five years, to see if the Mother Priestess would change her habits as Yesmyria would speak with herself. But she didn't and I was ordered to tell it, after my silence for five years."

Kyn remained silent for a moment, obviously lost in the past. "The Mother Priestess was furious. And I was selected as the new Little One. But Lady Curupira helped me escape and since then I have lived here. But I am still danger of being discovered and when that happens I will be killed."

It was silent for a few moments.

"That's some story." Tao finally said.

Kyn looked over at Dar and wasn't surprised to see that his eyes were dropping again. Smiling gently she helped him to finish the broth and said: "You are gonna get some sleep. Beastmaster or not, you still have some recovering to do."

Tao washed the mugs, then went on to work on his maps, while Kyn went outside to brush Dalisha.

***

Kyn had trouble not to burst out laughing when she and Tao ate their evening meal. She could sense that he was so full of questions, that he was almost bursting. "Tao?" she asked.

Tao looked up from his meal. "Yes?"

"You're an Eiron, aren't you?" At the unspoken question that she saw when he looked at her. "I recognized the ring. And I know that they usually are full of questions. So, if you are, go ahead."

"Can you explain me some more about the mage abilities?"

"I think you already know a lot about what it is. Eirons know this form of magic as empathic magic."

"You mean, if you connect with a persons aura you can sense their feelings and emotions." As Kyn's nod, he continued: "I know some of how that process goes, but I don't know how you can levitate or how you can shield us from scrying."

"At first I want to say that only a few can use mage magic for this things. Mostly don't come further than the empathic part. Levitation I do by attracting an objects or persons aura to my own aura. And mages have to shield themselves so that they don't feel everyone's aura. To protect us from scrying I simply have extended my shields around the cabin and it's direct surroundings." Kyn explained.

"That must take a lot of energy." Tao observed.

"It does, but not too much." She looked up at Tao who had a thoughtful look on his face."You and Dar aren't really at ease with magic, aren't you?"

"You have seen that well."

"I don't know if someone told you this before, Tao, but magic in itself is neutral. It. the energies that all kinds of magic use are a part of this world, just like the rain, the sun, the plants and the animals. Even the energies that sorcery uses. It's true. often magic is used for evil, but that depends on the user.I only have heard a few things about Dar, but I do know Lady Curupira's gift is a kind magic. You just don't see all of it."

Tao seemed ot think this over, but nodded a few seconds later. Next moment he looked almost hesitatingly.

"Ask whatever you want, Tao. I will answer most of them."

"What. are you sensing about me?"

Kyn laughed. "Give me your hand." She accepted his hand, closed her eyes and focused. "You're very curious at the moment. But you're also very worried about Dar and you wish you could do more." Kyn let his hand go and opened her eyes. "There is a bit more, but this is the most dominant."

"And. what.do you sense about. What do you sense about Dar?" Tao asked hesitantly.

Kyn was not surprised. "I know why you ask this question, Tao. I know you want to help him. But I never tell such things to other persons without their permission. Not even their best friends."

***

And like most nights before horse cries filled the cabin. Tao was the first at Dar's side, but Kyn was there a few seconds later.

"Let him sleep. I have another way to calm him down." she said softly. Kyn kneeled down at his bedside and as she took a few deep breaths as she had done many times before she put her hands in the swirling aura of Dar. She gathered all her calm, soothing feelings she could find within herself and transferred it with her hands to the young man.

"Empathic magic?"

Kyn nodded. "The main use of mage magic is in healing. He has been having the nightmares most of the time and I have been using the mage magic to make sure he sleeps well."

Dar slowly calmed down and an even, calm breathing could be heard. Kyn removed her hands and smiled at bit. "Go to sleep. He will sleep calmly the rest for the night."

Both returned to the makeshift beds on the floor, made from bedrolls and a number of furs.

***

"And have you been having some more luck in finding out who is shielding you, my dear?" The Ancient One appeared besides the Sorceress as she worked with her scrying bowl."

"Some. I am being pushed away by a mage. All I have to do now, is finding out who did this and come up with a fitting. reward." The blonde finished with a grim face.

"Well, good luck, my dear."

***

"What do you think of our new friends, Dalisha?" Kyn murmured softly. Two days after Dar's fever had disappeared she was still getting used to two men around her little cabin. No major problems, but after four years with hardly any people, it was very busy.

Kyn was lost in her thoughts, so she jumped when Dalisha threw her head up. She looked around at what had caused the disturbance and saw Ruh paddling around her. She glared at the tiger. "Ruh, can't you leave Dalisha alone? I know you can't get along that well, but do you need her to agitate her so?"

"Ruh, come here." Dar's voice sounded, tingled with laughter.

Kyn looked at the direction of the Beastmaster sitting against the wand of her cabin. He raised some fuss about being stuck inside for so long and finally Kyn and Tao had helped him outside. She understood it perfectly. Dar just wasn't a indoor person.

***

Dar had been studying the young woman taking care of her horse. He had heard some of her life story two day's ago, but there were still so many questions in his mind.

He startled a bit when she started talking to Ruh. "Ruh, can't you leave Dalisha alone? I know you can't get along that well, but do you need her to agitate her so?"

Dar grinned. "Ruh, come here."

"Can't control your own animals, Beastmaster? I will brush you later, Dalisha, when that tiger is hunting." Kyn finished speaking to her horse and went inside.

'Why do tease Dalisha so much, Ruh?' Dar sent towards the tiger by his side.

'We just tease each other, Beastmaster. I don't mean any harm with it to Kyn'raem.' An unexpected and unknown female voice spoke in his mind.

Dar looked up to see the black mare looking at him. 'But if it bothers you we can stop. Can't we, Ruh?'

'Speak for yourself. Maybe I don't have to hunt if such tasty meat is around here.' the tiger's voice rumbled.

'Just don't agitate, Kyn. I wouldn't like it if she kicked me out of her cabin because of you.' Dar came between them.

'Don't worry, Dar. I was just joking. We will do what you ask'

"KODO, PODO, GET OUT OF HERE. Beastmaster! If you don't keep your animals in line, I will do it my way. If you like it or not!

'I think those ferrets are more agitating to her than we are at the moment.' Ruh commented.

Dar just grinned and called Kodo and Podo to his side.

***

Tao appeared at the open spot of the quarters. Dar was propped up confertably to the wall of the cabin, with Ruh and the ferrets by his side.

He quickly made his way inside the cabin to dispose of the fruits he had gathered. Kyn was stirring in the oakmeal. "I gathered some berries and other fruits."

"Thank you. " She quickly looked over the fruits. "Could you cut two pears and an apple into small pieces?"

"Of course." Tao grabbed a cutting board and a knife and started to cut the fruits.

"How do you put up with those ferrets? They ate all the berries I put out." Kyn sprinkled some berries over the oakmeal and stirred them trough it.

"Most of the time Dar keeps them in line. And my advice: ignore them."

Kyn dipped a small spoon in the oakmeal and tasted. She winced at the taste. "Some herbs and the rest of the fruit should make it okay." She quickly selected the herbs she wanted to use and added them. She also took the cut fruits fom Tao and finished the oakmeal.

Tao in the meantime gathered three bowls with spoons and waited till the oakmeal was hot enough.

"Hand me the bowls." Kyn laddled out the oakmeal and removed the kettle with the rest of it from the fire.

Both walked outside and sat down by the blonde man. Tao handed him his bowl and the three of them enjoyded the tasty meal.

"Kyn, when do you think Dar would be ready to travel further?" Tao asked.

"Four of five days, although he will have to take it easy for a few days." Dar started to protest, but Kyn raised her hand. "Am I the healer or you? You really should give your body the time to recover, Dar. After we finish the meal I want you to rest for a couple of hours."

***

It was a bright, sunny day, three days later.

"Great." Kyn muttered.

"What's wrong?" Tao asked.

"Dalisha is cripple. I need to gathered some special plants. I really need them. They grow quite some distance away from here. And there are Tenoran warriors in the forest the last two days. I can't outrun them on foot if nessecary."

"How do you know?"

"I sense them. And Dar told me that Sharak had seen them."

"Take Ruh with you. He will protect you." Dar said joining the conversation.

Kyn'raem looked at him with content. 'He as good as recovered. Only he is far to stubborn.' She turned to look at him, reminding herself that this morning he was already practicing with his staff and that probably he had been doing it a few days before. "That might be a good idea. If really nessecary I can communicate somewhat with my mage abilities."

Dar looked slightly uneasy at her mention of ther mage abilities, but turned towards Ruh and the tiger paddled over to him. The two quickly communicated and Ruh growled softly.

Kyn adjusted her quiver with arrows and smoothed out her skirt. "Let's go, Ruh." She marched into the forest and Ruh paddled after her.

Tao observed his friend. "Where are you thinking about?"

"About magic. And her mage abilities."

"She said something to during a conversation that got me thinking. She said that magic in itself is neutral, that it is a part of nature. And that it was true that often magic is used for evil, but that that depends on the user. And that your Beastmaster abilities are also a form of magic." Tao studied his friend closely. "And I think she is right."

"Perhaps."

***

"So. Did you finally succeed, Sorceress?"

"Of course I did. He is in the hands of a powerful mage. But I know who she is. And I am going to deal with her right now."

The green-clad Sorceress dissappeared in a flash of light, leaving a smug looking Ancient One behind.

"You taught her well." a voice suddenly said behind him.

The Ancient One turned around with a swish. "Yesmyria."

He was facing a woman with a pale skin, black hair and radiant, emerald green eyes. She wore long white robes. Her eyes were circled with black paint, her lips accented with red and white and silver stripes covered the rest of her face. Upon her brow rested a silver tiara.

"Ancient One."

"What do you want, Yesmyria?"

"Just warning you. Your student is on her way hurting one of my children. And possibly my daughters Beastmaster."

"Are you treathing me?"

"Me? No. Just. warning you. I accepted you stealing my Little Ones, even some of them to raise them as your Socceresses. But now you have crossed a line. I might not be to able to undo some of your spells, but I can modify them. And maybe I can't stop my daughter from trying to give you her kiss of death."

"You can't do anything."

"Just wait." Yesmyria dissolved in a white cloud. "Just wait, Damion."

***

"I won't be capable of making sure that he rests for much longer, will I?" She looked at tiger walking at her side.

Ruh besides her grumbled.

"Not that I had expected anything else."

This time the tiger gave a purr.

"Here it is." Kyn kneeled down and started to gather the leaves, putting them in the small basket she had brought with her. She worked quikcly, but now and then she glanced around her.

Ruh stepped up beside her and let out a soft purr.

"Why I am so worried? Something is making my skin crawl." Suddenly she looked up. "The animals have gone silent." She threw the leaves into the basket and jumped up. Within seconds she had an arrow on the string of her bow.

Ruh besides her growled and his body tensed for action.

It remained silent for a few seconds, but then horses galloped out of the trees, approaching her position quickly. Kyn glanced over them and let loose her first arrow. Before the first horse reached her she had downed three riders. She continued to do this, while Ruh jumped at the first man trying to attack her.

Together they formed a strong team, but their were too many men. She lost her bow and men grabbed her. She had just the time to tear the hanger of her neck and threw it away. Ruh jumped around and growled, ready to attack.

"No Ruh. There is notthing you can do anymore. Go back to Dar and tell him that he must not come after me." She saw the tiger hesitating, grabbing her hanger in his beak. "Go!"

Finally he obeyed and he jumped away. Kyn saw a man raising a bow at her side. "I wouldn't do that, Krevlok."

"And why not? You don't carry the mantle of the Lady Yesmyria anymore."

"Wrong Krevlok. It wasn't the Goddess that choose me as Little One, but the Malvina. Lady Curupira helped me escape. In the eyes of Lady Yesmyria and Lady Curupira I still am a priestess. Besides, this tiger is the companion of one of Lady Curupira's chosen. The chosen one won't be glad if you kill him, but also Lady Curupira might decide to give you her. gift if you do somehting. And you have me now."

The soldier had been looking at her an in the mean time Ruh had dissappeared out of sight. Kyn allowed the soldiers to bound her wrists together and went with them.

***

Dar was practecing with his staff when Ruh arrived. The tiger immidiately paddled over the man and made contact with his mind. "They took the priestess"

Dar barely aknowledged him and immidiately asked Sharak to go and look for them. The bird let out a screech and flew up.

"What's wrong?" Tao had come out of the cabin.

"They got Kyn." Dar marched past Tao and grabbed the harness for his staff. Kodo and Podo scrurried over and both climbed in the pouch Dar usually carried them in.

"Are you sure your up to it. Knowing Kyn a bit she asked Ruh to say that you shouldn't come after her." Tao said, but he already started to gather his stuff.

"She did." Dar walked outside, Tao following him. The first glanced at Dalisha standing at the side of the cabin.

"Go. I can't do anything now. I will be fine." The black mare spoke firmly in his mind.

Dar only paused for a second when Ruh dropped a necklace in front of him. He quickly picked it up and looked at it quizically.

Tao stopped besides him and studied the hanger for a second. "This is her tardarak. Whoever has this hanger, owns Kyn. It might provide us with a way to save her."

Dar tucked the hanger away safely and a few seconds later Dar and Tao were on their way to Tanora.

***

"Malvina. So good to see you again. not." Kyn intoned. She was in the city hall, a building of white stone, a roof of slate and a marmer floor.

Krevlok immidiately swatted her in the face and forced her to her knees. "Treat your Mother Priestess with respect!"

"Leave it, Krevlok. Where is her tardarak?"

"She wasn't wearing it, Máthair. I don't know where it is." Krevlok bowed deeply.

"You fool. Leave us alone."

Kyn looked up at the petite woman before her. The woman was dressed in an ankle long white skirt and a short sleeved white skirt. Both were embroidered with silver moons, suns and stars. She wore a silver circlet with a star, a sun and a moon on the front around her head with numerous strings of silver beads falling over her hair. Her eyes were circled with black, her lips covered with red and silver and white stripes covered her face. Her arms were also covered with silver and white stripes. The woman was in her forties, but she was still beautiful.

"I see you still call yourself the Mother Priestess of this temple. And finally you managed to catch me."

"Wasn't that difficult. I knew you were still there, but you hardly came out in the open. So I had to lure you out. I let some people hit the Beastmaster, knowing you would come to his aid somehow. Then I let some people shadow your cabin. Finally, with a bit of help I managed to catch you."

Kyn let the words sink in for a few moments. Her anger grew, but outwardly she remained calm. "How could you fool Dar? Most of the time he can hear people coming. Or his animals warn him."

"We aren't mages for nothing. Some simple manipulation." Malvina laughed bitterly. "But now your verdict. You will be bound to the death cross to die there without any food and water."

"Wrong Malvina. You can't decide anything over me without my tardarak."

"A minor detail. Unless. Krevlok, take her to the holding cell and place her under very rigid security. The verdict will be carried out tomorrow at noon."

"Yes, Máthair." The man bowed and started to pull her away.

"Lady Red Eyes will welcome you in her forest one day, Malvina."

"O yes, Krevlok. Make sure she looks like a Taronan woman, although not a priestess. Place something around her neck that can pass for a tardarak.."

***

Dar and Tao ran quickly in the direction of the small city.

"You still okay, Dar?" Tao gasped out.

"Don't worry. Kyn did her work well."

***

Kyn'raem paced around in her cell. She saw the sun ray's getting lower and lower trough the small window near the roof. The cell was simple wood with grass roof and some dried hay on the floor. And although she couldn't see anyone, but she knew the cell was surrounded with guards.

Suddenly the door opened and someone threw in a bag. "Make sure your dressed properly in an hour or we will dress you." She heard Krevlok's voice grumble.

Kyn sighed and headed over to the bag. For now, she would act as she was submissive and follow orders. She quickly opened the bag and pulled on a dark blue skirt and a deep red short-sleeved tunic with brown leather sandals. She pulled her hair back with a few wooden combs and applied the black and red facepaint. Finally she found a very simple bone hanger and placed it around her neck.

Then she sat down, having nothing to do, but wait.

***

At sunrise they arrived at the outskirts of Tanora and Tao forced Dar to stop. "Mabye this is a very stupid question, but how had you planned on getting her out?"

"Just by claiming her. We.own her, don't we?"

"We do, but. I doubt it will be that easy."

"Do you have a beter idea?"

"Not really." Tao glanced over the city, mostly a collection of cabins form grass and wood, but also several buildings made from stone with roofs made from slate. "Let's go."

***

"On this day, we present you the fallen priestess Kyn'raem. She got the highest honor by being chosed as The Little One. But she choose to lose this honor and ran. For this she will die by the cross." Malvina spoke. She was standing on the central plaza, on a large wooden stage. A small group of priestesses was behind her.

Krevlok dragged out a young woman, dressed in typical colorfull, but daily Tanoran cloths and guided her over to the cross. A man grabbed her also and both started tying her to the cross.

"I suggest you stop this right now." A soft, but dangerous voice said behind them.

The people on the plaza looked up to see where the sound came from. In one corner stood a man clad only in a loincloth, boots and sunstreaked hair, twirling a staff above his head. One step behind him stood another man. Not looking as dangerous, but he had a very determined look on his face. A tiger was besides the men and everyone looked up when they heard the screech of an eagle flying over their heads.

Malvina narrowed her eyes, immidiately understanding who these men were. "Beastmaster. welcome on this occasion. It should be a joy for you. since we punish someone who defied the one who gave you ability to communicate with animals."

"I never celebrate death, earned or not." Dar said.

"We claim the woman upon the cross, for the fact that we have her tardarak." Tao spoke, holding up the necklace.

"And welcome to you also, Eiron scholar. It should be a joyeus occasion for you too." Malvina choose to ignore the tardarak in Tao's hands.

"We simply want her back, Malvina."

"You won't call me by that name. And since you won't join us in the celebration or even let us proceed with it. get them!"

Dar immidiately twirled his staff again and turned to Tao for a second. "Keep the tardarak save."

Then the men were upon them and Dar and the tiger moved into action.

***

Yesmyria looked in her white marmer scrying bowl. And her anger was only growing. Normally she was slowly to anger, but now at first the interference of her enemy's student and now the actions of the people who should represent her.

Time to take things into own hands.

"Curupira!" she called.

A clap of thunder announced the arrival of the demon. "Mother?"

"Have you been following the events with your Beastmaster?"

"Of course. He is good hands of Kyn'raem."

"Not anymore. Watch." She guided her daughter over to the white marmer scrying bowl. "It's time to interfere. Wanna come?"

Curupira gazed at the image in the bowl for a moment. When she looked up, her face hardened. "Let's go."

***

Kyn was slightly stunned at what was happening. First she was being tied to the cross and she had been fearing her death at the cross. Then Dar and Tao had appeared and everything had turned in a mess a few minutes later.

She glanced around her, seeing Dar fighting off ten, twelve men. Her glance slid slowly over the plaza, seeing several stunned and very suprised people and finally on the assembly of priestesses. She saw a few familiar faces.

But what got more of her attention were three young priestesses, maybe sixteen years old. They were murmering softly and she saw one of them glare at Malvina on the small stage. Two carried a quiver with arrows and a bow, while the other had a sling in her hand with a bag of stones ready.

There was some more soft murmering and then two placed an arrow upon the string of their bows, while the last one readied her sling. In a flash all three moved forward and jumped on the stage. The girl who had glared aimed her sling at Malvina, while the other two aimed their arrows at the guards holding Kyn.

"Stop this, Máthair. You are attacking the Chosen One of Lady Curupira. Kyn'raem really had her vision and I know she wasn't the only one."

The woman twirled at her. "The Dark One also infected your mind, Myrine?"

"No, Mát.Malvina. Lady Yesmyria spoke to me. All the ones who she spoke to also died. This isn't right." Myrine spoke again. Her bright red hair shone in the sun.

The fight between Dar and the men had fell silent to listen to the argument that started now on the stage.

"You haven't chosen a worthy Little One in the Lady Yesmyria's eyes for years. You chose the children from families you hated or which were a treath to your position. And when you choose a worthy one, you again only did it because she was again an treath to your position."

"The Lady told me which Little One she wanted!"

"Then why do maidens on their innitiation get keeping visions of Lady Yesmyria telling them she doesn't want any Little Ones anymore?"

"The Dark One whispers in their minds."

"You really believe that."

In the meantime the warriors who had attacked Dar had been advancing on the stage. Suddenly they attacked. Immidiately the two others let their arrows hit the guards of Kyn and they turned towards the warriors and started shooting. The arrows didn't hit lethal places, but enough to keep them of.

Dar started pushing his way trough the crowd, but an approaching Ruh really had succes and he easily reached the men.

The people in the plaza were falling from one surprise into another, but the largest still had to come.. That one arrived when Kyn'raem climbed the stage.

She raised her arms to the sky and let out the skreech of an eagle. In reply Sharak also screeched and landed on her stretched out arm. Kyn screeched again.

Thunder claps filled the plaze and in a flash of lightning two figures appeared besides Kyn, Malvina and Myrine. One was a woman with a pale skin, black hair and radiant, emerald green eyes. She wore long white robes. Her eyes were circled with black paint, her lips accented with red and white and silver stripes covered the rest of her face. Upon her brow rested a silver tiara. The other one was a green-skinned woman with blond hair, blue eyes and an angelic face. Her feet were placed backwards.

The plaza felt silent. Myrine was the first one to react. She lowered her bow and fell to her knees. "Lady Yesmyria. Lady Curupira." She bowed forward and her forehead touched the ground.

At that moment everyone else fell to their knees, except for Dar and Tao and the plaza was silent once again.

***

Yesmyria surveyed the crowd for a moment. She wasn't surprised to see that only the Beastmaster and his friend were still standing.

"My daughter's Beastmaster. and his friend."

Both men glanced at each other, then bowed slighly . "Lady Yesmyria." Dar looked over the the forest spirit besides the royal looking woman. "Curupira."

The forest spirit nodded shortly. "Beastmaster."

Then Yesmyria started to speak. "I have come here to finally set right a wrong. And I should have been here a long time ago. Malvina, why did you ignore the signals I send you?"

"I believed the Dark One was speaking."

"I spoke to you myself.It's time that some things are gonna change.Things I should have changed long ago." Yesmyria gestured with her hand and suddenly Malvina was dressed in exactly the same outfit as Kyn was, but everything in a bland brown. Yesmyria turned to the other priestesses. "Although I don't want any Little Ones anymore, I still think this temple should continue to exist. Despite all the things gone wrong the last few years, you have done good work. You just need a new Mother Priestess." It was silent for a few seconds. "Kyn'raem, do you accept this position?"

"Me?" Kyn let it sink in for a second, then stood up. "It's an honor, mylady."

Yesmyria waved again with her hand and Kyn'raem stood there, dressed in the ankle long white skirt and a short sleeved white skirt, both embroidered with silver moons, suns and stars. She wore a silver circlet with a star, a sun and a moon on the front around her head with numerous strings of silver beads falling over her hair. Her eyes were circled with black, her lips covered with red and silver and white stripes covered her face. Her arms were also covered with silver and white stripes. Her tardarak had dissappeared from Tao's hand and hung around her neck again.

Myrine was the first to rise and step forward. She went down on one knee and kissed Kyn'raem's left hand. "Welcome, Máthair." After her the other priestesses followed.

"Now we only have a few more matters to settle. The temples duty was always to help me with my Little One. Now we need to find a new purpose."

Myrine slowly rose from her kneeling position, but kept her eyes on the ground. "Mylady. if I might make a. suggestion?"

Yesmyria looked at the tense young priestess. "You have nothing to fear, young one. You were very brave just before and you are doing it again at this moment. Do you have a good suggestion?"

"Among the young priestesses we feel that the world is going a bit out of balance. You're the Lady of Balance The Terrons are attacking more and more tribes who follow the laws of peace. But Malvina said it wasn't important. Perhaps. our new duty could be to keep the flames of those laws and all the other knowledge you have given us burning. To counter the loss of balance." Myrine said soflty.

"You and your fellow priestesses have felt it well, young one. And I see that you want to work on it. Then this will be your new purpose. Help to keep the world in balance." Yesmyria turned toward the new Mother Priestess. "I would keep an eye on this young one, Kyn."

Kyn nodded. "What should we do with Malvina, mylady?"

Yesmyria turned towards her daughter, face looking grim. "Curupira."

The forest spirit nodded and started to walk over towards the shaking woman.

Dar glanced over at the shaking woman then at the forest spirit on the stage. "Is this really nessecary, Curupira?"

Curupira twirled around, staring at the man at the plaza. And with her all the people on the plaza and stage. "And why shouldn't I, Beastmaster?" The forest spirit snarled.

"How will she learn then, Curupira? How will she learn what she did wrong?" Dar asked.

"Losing everything one values often means more then losing ones life." Tao spoke softly.

Yesmyria glanced over at the young men, contemplating what they had said. "You are both wise. in a kind of way."

Curupira snorted. "You can't be serious, Mother."

"I am speaking the truth, daughter. Very well. She will live. But she will be marked with the black moon and be banished from Tenora and surrrounding area's forever." She waved her hand and on Malvina's cheek a black moon appeared. "Leave now, to never return."

The woman touched her cheek hesitantly, hurried away and the Goddess turned towards Kyn'raem. "I have to go. Good luck with your work. I will stop by the temple to smoothe out some of your return." Yesmyria looked at the daughter and nodded. Both dissapeared in a flash of lightning.

Kyn looked over the crowd. "Return to your houses. We will gather here in two days. Dar, Tao, I hope you will be our guest at the temple for now."

***

Evening had fallen and Kyn'raem was back at the temple that had been her home for the most of her life. Her afternoon had been filled with talking to several of the priestesses, maidens and children,explaining what happened and getting reaquitenced with everyone.

"And what do you think of my old home?" Kyn'raem dipped her bread in the warm soup. She was enjoying her dinner in the company of Dar and Tao.

"It looks beautiful and the people seem very nice. Myrine gave us a tour." Tao said simply.

"I remember her very well. We were always close, despite the age difference."

"How is it to be back?" Dar asked.

Kyn contemplated it for a moment. "It's strange.I was welcomed warmly. Only some of the elder priestesses looked a bit dark at me. But so much has changed in the four years I have been away. Many priestesses who shared my view have been sent by Malvina for service in the villages. Among them my best friend. And there is so much to do. I have been talking to some people. For example: the most experienced priestesses who could treathen Malvina's position have been send also to the villages, important area's have been neglected in the education of the new members, others area's have been very restricted by Malvina's order, while it's basic knowledge."

"Like what?" Tao inquired curiously.

"We work in three phases: Child, Maiden and Priestess. The Child phase is the basic; that's going alright. But in the Maiden phase things like the weapon training starts, for the trades, fine tuning their mage abilities by working with humans and large animals. Normally when they became ten this training starts, but now only a year before their initiation so they learn just the basics. And it stops after their initiation. But they need those things fully developed for their initiation and to do their work properly.But I already have a few plans."

"Like what?"

"I have sent out several people to recall all the priestesses from the villages. And I am setting up new teaching groups. The children are in good hands. But for the Maidens and the Priestesses who have been initiated a few years ago we are restarting the training."

"If we can help any way, just say it."

***

Myrine woke up at sunrise, washed her face with some cold water and quickly slid in her top and knee-length skirt. It was her turn to take care of the young girls this morning.

Just outside the chambers of the just initiated priestesses she met the two older priestesses who also had shift this morning. The elder priestesses went to kitchens to fetch breakfast, while Myrine went to wake up the children.

When she walked over the grass she stopped for a moment to admire the sight before her. The Beastmaster practecing with his staff. Tao was drawing on his map nearby and Ruh also lay watching, but Myrine hardly noticed them.

She watched for a few moments, but walked over to them when they noticed her and waved towards her. "Looks impressive, Dar. But do you think you can also use the sling so well?"

Dar eyed the supple leather sling on her belt and the acompaning pouch of stones. "I have played with one as a child, but soon I focused on the staff. I will leave it to you."

"Wise decision, Beastmaster. Well. I need to get to the children. See you later."

When she arrived at the cabin, most girls were already awake, like most mornings. She helped the little ones with their tunics, then got everyone organized in the routine line. The five-year olds walked at the sides of the eldest nine-year olds. She took her place at the head of the line and walked with them towards the main building.

Outside the chatter of the girls filled the air. Myrine smiled as she heard the various conversations going. But that quickly changed when several of the girls began to scream in fear.

Myrine twirled around to survey the situation. Another tiger was paddling towards the line of children, growling and her body tense. "Stay where you are. Don't move." She reached for her sling and took a stone in her hand.

Suddenly another tiger hurried by and started to purr and growl softly to the other tiger. Dar and Tao joined Myrine at her side.

"What is that tiger doing here, Dar?" Myrine inquired softly. She gently walked over to the children and picked up one of the youngest ones crying.

Dar and Tao followed her. "It's Ruh's mate. She came to visit him, but she was a bit shook up from all the children." Dar was carrying the pouch with Kodo and Podo and both the ferrets stuck their head out.

The little girl being held by Myrine looked curiously. "What is that, Myrine?" She shyly glanced to Dar.

Dar smiled and lifted the ferrets from the pouch. "This is Kodo and this is Podo." Both the ferrets scurried up Myrines arms started to sniff at the girl.

The little girl giggled. "What do they want?" she asked curiously.

"They are hungry." Dar explained.

"Can I take them for breakfast? I can give them food." The little girl babbled, tigers clearly forgotten. The other children were also being distracted by the actions of the furry rodents.

Dar communicated with them, then allowed to go with the little girl. One of the elder priestesses come to look where they were staying. She and Myrine spoke quickly for a few moments and the elder priestess guided the line towards the main building.

"Myrine." Six of the nine or ten year old girls waited.

"What is it, girls?"

"May we watch the tigers?"

Myrine nodded. She was watcing the tigers, until she heard Tao hiss softly. "Look Dar." Myrine twirled around to see two tiger cubs coming out of the trees.

Dar was stunned, glancing between his friend and the cubs. 'Why didn't you tell me?'

'Never found the time.'

The cubs had toddled over to their mother and the tigress was licking them. At Ruh's and his mate's permission Dar walked over and first stroked the mother, then the cubs. At the Beastmasters sign Tao joined them, first a bit cautiously, but relaxed quickly.

Myrine looked at the six watching girls who had delighted looks on their faces. "Beautiful sight, isn't it?"

"I wish I could pet them." One of the girl said wishfully.

Suddenly the tigress growled and started to paddle back to the forest, her cubs following. Ruh remained at this place and Dar rejoined Myrine and the girls.

He saw the wishfull and slightly dissapointed faces of the girls and smiled. "The tigress only let me and Tao pet him because Ruh knows us." Dar glanced over at the tiger and back at the young girls. 'Would you mind if the girls pet you?'

'I don't mind. I saw them watching the cubs...'

Dar turned back towards the girls. "If you want you can pet Ruh."

At first they hesitated, but then they came forward and kneeled down besides the tiger. Dar showed the girls where Ruh really liked to be scratched.

Suddenly one of the girl's faces lighted up. "I can sense him. He really likes where you're scratching him, Kita."

"Well done. Kita, girls, you need to go for breakfast." Myrine said softly.

The girls departed towards the main building. Myrine chuckled softly. "Thank you, Ruh. You really made their day."

Myrine followed an inner instict and reached out with her hands, focusing on Ruh's aura.

***

Tao looked fascinated at Myrine how she clearly was communicating with the tiger. "Can you understand what they are saying, Dar?"

"Not really. They communicate in a completely different way from how I do."

Myrine laughed. "I need to get to kids." She removed her hands from Ruh and accepted Dar's hand up. Only when she touched the hand she froze. Her face turned chalk white and she started shaking.

"Myrine?" Tao asked softly.

Myrine didn't reply, but tears started running over her face and her shaking became worse.

"Myrine?"

"Let's her hand go." An unfamiliar voice called. "Just let her hand go."

Tao looked up to see a woman with blond hair and blue eyes jumping of a horse besides them. She wore a priestess outfit and a sling bungled in her belt, with the bag of stones.

Dar let Myrines hand go and the new woman softly started to speak to the distraught girl. "Close your eyes, Myrine.That's it. Slow your breathing. Focus and rebuild your shields. You can do it."

"What's wrong?" Kyn'raem walked over. She laughed widely. "Ayla!"

"Not now, Kyn. She had a bad surge with her mage abilities." Ayla said quickly. She put her fingers in her mouth and whistled a low tone. Soon a priestess hurried over. Ayla handed Myrine over to the priestess with a few quick words.

"What just happened? Will she be okay?" Tao and Dar were still stunned.

"She will be fine. She had a few troubles with her mage shields." Kyn explained quickly. "Excuse me for a moment." Then she turned towards the blond woman. "Ayla!" Both women hugged.

"That's been a while ago." Ayla smiled. "About four years ago." She looked over Kyn. "You certainly have gone up in the world."

"You could say so. There are a few people I would like you to meet." Kyn turned towards Dar and Tao.

"Dar, I would like you to meet Ayla, priestess of the main Yesmyria temple of the city of Tanora. Ayla, I would like you to meet Dar of the Sula, chosen Beastmaster of Curupira."

Ayla turned towards Dar with both hands up and open. "In Yesmyria's name I greet you." She said formally. Dar returned the reply.

Then Kyn turned Tao. "Tao, I would like you to meet Ayla, priestess of the main Yesmyria temple of the city of Tanora. Ayla, I would like you to meet Tao, scholar of the tribe of Eiron."

Ayla and Tao repeated the greeting and then Kyn'raem invited everyone for breakfast.

***

"Are okay again, Myrine?" Kyn'raem gently asked after breakfast.

The girl was still a bit pale, but the shaking had stopped and the tears had vanished. "I am fine. I was communicating with Ruh and all my shields were down. Have you sensed it, Kyn?"

"Of cource. But we can't do anything about it."

Myrine sat down on a sheep skin on the ground. Kyn and Ayla sat down before her. Myrine had pensive look on her face. "Kyn, Ayla.Are Dar and Tao part of the Gallatin ?"

Kyn and Ayla glanced at each other with astounded faces. "What. what are you talking about?"

"Don't try to fool me. I saw it also at my initiation. Lady Yesmyria told me she showed you also what would happen."

"That why you suggest about the task of keeping balance in this world."

Myrine nodded. "I am not the only one of my age group who had heard of this in our visions. But I only realized that Dar is part of them when I sensed his aura. And Tao then also being part of them is only logical. If you look at the friendship they share."

"You are right, Myrine. Dar and Tao are both part of the Gallatin ." Ayla confirmed.

"Do you already have idea's who the other four are?"

"I have a suspicion. But that's all I can say." Kyn said softly.

"Máthair. The Beastmaster and his friend say that there is an emergency in the Mydlands. And that they will have to leave quickly." A girl poked her head around the curtain.

"Thank you, Anasi. We will be there in a second." Kyn turned towards Myrine. "Want to come along? I think it will reassure them. They were quite shaken up."

"Of course."

***

"Remember, Dar, you're always welcome here. And the same goes to you, Tao." Kyn said warmly. She gave Dar a quick hug, then gave the same to Tao.

"Are you alright, Myrine?" Dar turned towards the young priestess.

"I am fine again. Don't worry about it, Dar, you didn't hurt me. Just promise you will take of yourself." Myrine answered, a smile on her face.

"I promise."

Myrine smiled and turned to Tao. "Look after your friend. And after yourself."

"Of course. You look after yourself also."

Dar checked on Kodo and Podo in their pouch and took his staff. Tao adjusted the bags he wore and both headed out to their next adventure.

The three priestesses looked after them. "Things will be going fast now. I sense it. And we need the temple in order for those events. Let's get to work."

The end???