BeastMaster: The Loss

Summary: Dar struggles to continue on his quest after Tao is killed by Terrons.

Disclaimer: I don't own Dar or Tao*sob* but if I did, that show would have a "Viewer Discretion Advised" warning before it (jk!)

Okay then, let's BEGIN!


            "Tao, come on, we're almost there!" Dar called to his Eiron friend over his shoulder. They were on their way back to the Sanctuary after answering the call for help issued by a female leopard. Humans were poaching her and her kin for their furs and Dar decided to not wait for Curupira to come and ask for him to go down there and kill the ones responsible. He wanted to deal with this HIS way. Tao had agreed to come along, saying that he needed to gather herbs. But Dar knew that Tao didn't want Dar to become lonely. And inside, Dar was grateful. He was too used to Tao's chattering to feel really comfortable alone again.

            "It's only a day or two away, Tao." Dar continued. Tao was a few yards behind him, slipping on loose stones that he stepped on.

            "Oh, that's a comfort." his friend replied sarcastically, as he again slipped and fell due to the loose gravel.

            Dar smiled slightly, amused by his friend's attitude. He then turned and looked west, towards the setting sun. It was bathing the sky a disturbing blood-red color, before sinking out of sight.

            "I think that we should stop here for tonight Tao." Dar said as the smaller man pulled up even with him. Tao's relief was obvious on his face and he collapsed gratefully on the ground. Dar sat down beside him, still looking at where the sun had been moments before.

            "I hope that didn't mean something." Dar said quietly.

            "What, the sun set? No that's probably the effect smoke from civilizations near here." Tao answered, rummaging through his pack, looking for anything that would be good for dinner tonight. He pulled out fruit, bread, and cheese, giving half to Dar and keeping half for himself. The two ate in silence, just enjoying each other's company. Little did they know that their moment of peace would soon be tragically cut short.


            As Dar and Tao gathered moss for their beds, there was a rustle in the bushes behind them. Dar spun around, mentally searching for any animals that were close. All that he found were Ruh, Kodo, Podo, and Sharak. He was about to go back to preparing his sleep mat when he heard it again.

            "Tao." he called out. Tao looked up.

            "What's wrong, Dar?" Tao questioned.

            "Something's out there." Dar answered. Suddenly, Terron warriors jumped out at them from all sides. They were surrounded.


            "Not good." Tao murmured, edging closer to Dar. The BeastMaster pulled out his staff, ready to defend both himself and the Eiron. The odds weren't good (12 to 1) but Dar had faced worse. His only real concern was for his companion. He knew that Tao would fight if need be, but he hoped it wouldn't come to that. Tao was too important to him.

            The Terrons came at him in a group. He easily finished off the first 6, but the others proved to be harder. Finally, after several more minutes of fighting, Dar finished off the last 4.

            'But wait,' Dar thought to himself as he watched the retreating backs of the Terrons, 'There were 12 when the battle started, so where are the other 2?' Suddenly, Dar heard Tao screaming "Dar, MOVE. Get out of the way!" He felt a body slam into him and he fell to the ground, dazed. When he looked up, the scene before him made him think that he'd been dropped in his own personal hell.


            Tao had been what slammed into him and he was now able to see why. Two arrows protruded from Tao's body, one very close to his heart, the other buried in his stomach. He ran and caught the body of his friend as he fell backward. Dar looked for the source of the arrows. He then saw the 2 remaining Terrons. They had hidden in the trees when the battle started, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. They were now running as fast as they could away from the battleground, fearing the BeastMaster's wrath. They didn't get very far. Ruh had returned from his hunt to see Tao save Dar, and he immediately started after them. Killing them quickly, Ruh turned towards Dar, wanting to comfort the human, but the Sula ignored him. The tiger turned away, giving Dar privacy for the few last minutes he had with Tao.

            "Tao?" Dar whispered, "Tao, please stay with me."

            "Dar…Dar is that you?" Tao croaked, painfully. The pain in his middle was excruciating. He could barely keep his eyes open. Darkness was at the edge of his vision and all he wanted to do was sleep. But he had a feeling if he gave into his desire, he would never wake up. And if that was the case, he needed Dar to know something.

            "Yes it's me, my friend. I need you to stay awake for a little while longer so that you can tell me what to do to treat you." Dar answered, trying to keep the fear out of his voice. If Tao died and was lost to him, Dar didn't know how he was going to survive. Tao meant the world to him. There was no way that he was going to let him go without a fight.

            "It…it's no use." Tao gasped.

            "No, there is still hope! Tao, you must not give up." Dar was starting to get desperate.

            "I…need to…tell you something. Dar, I…I want you to know, that if I don't make it out of this…I want you to know that I don't regret doing this. You've been…like a brother to me, and this…is…a way to repay you for helping me all those times." Tao's voice was getting weaker, and he could feel death getting a firmer hold on him. The Eiron could hear Dar talking to him, but it sounded far away. All he could make out was something about not giving up and how Dar felt the brotherly connection that Tao had mentioned. And then darkness claimed him.


            Dar shook the still form in his arms, his eyes brimming with unshed tears. Tao's face was white and strangely peaceful, unlike the look of intense pain that had been on his face just moments before.

            "Tao…TAO!!! NO! You can't do this to me! I can't be alone again! TAO!" Tears were now rapidly streaming down the BeastMaster's face as he hopelessly tried to wake his best friend. Finally he gave up, and just held the dead Eiron, guilt, grief, and anger all warring for supremacy inside of him. Guilt at being the cause of the death of the most important person in his life. Grief at losing someone who was the closest thing to family he had. Anger at, once again, failing to stop the slaughter of an innocent person. His animal friends crowded around him, offering him their condolences, but it did nothing to ease the pain in Dar's heart. Finally, he got up, gently cradling his precious cargo. Taking the path towards the Sanctuary, Dar ignored Ruh's warning that it wasn't safe in the forest at night. He would take the body back to the Sanctuary and bury him there, allowing his spirit eternal peace. There was no way that Dar would allow anyone to disturb his friend's grave. He wouldn't make a pry. He couldn't stand to obliterate Tao's face. Silently, the warrior disappeared into the forest.


            Dar had finished making the hole for Tao's body some hours ago but he was still hesitant to put the scholar into the Earth permanently. It was almost as if Dar pretended that this whole thing had never happened, the BeastMaster would wake up to see his friend's smiling face, that everything would be back to normal. But in his heart, Dar knew that nothing would ever be the same. As he finally lowered the body into the ground, Dar whispered a final goodbye to his loyal companion, "Goodbye, my friend. You have no idea how much you will be missed. May the gods protect you. Wait for me, my brother."

He was in tears by the end of it and could not say anymore. Without speaking, Dar filled the grave of his one true human friend.


            The Sorceress watched this drama unfold with detached pity. She wished that there was something she could do to maybe ease the BeastMaster's pain for a few minutes. That sparked an idea. While she couldn't bring the Eiron back, she might be able to grant them a few moments to talk. She did not kill the clumsy one, so there was no way that Dar, in his grief-stricken mind, was going to blame this on her. He normally did that. This would prove him wrong. She began to work.


            Dar had spent the last few days in a daze, just wandering around the Sanctuary. Once he had gone out, but that was merely to gather the supplies that had been left at camp the night the Terrons attacked. He had put Tao's bag atop his grave as a marker. Kodo and Podo were constantly playing around it, trying to get Tao to chase them away. When they still couldn't get him to come out from where he was hiding, they started leaving the Sanctuary to look for him. The ferrets did not understand death, and nothing Dar said changed that. When they finally accepted that their friend was not returning, Kodo and Podo became melancholy. Their sadness ran almost as deep as Dar's but nothing matched the BeastMaster's grief. He kept on replaying the death scene in his mind, each time coming up with more ways that he could have saved the smart Eiron. Nothing that anyone, or anything, said made a difference. In Dar's mind, he had killed his best friend. That guilt would remain with him until his dying day.


            Tao woke up in a strange place. It was the Sanctuary, and yet it wasn't. The light was not coming from the sun and, well, it was just different. He couldn't really describe it, he just knew.

            "Tao! Tao what are you doing here?" Tao turned around quickly. He recognized that voice.

            "Kyra?" the scholar asked, amazed at seeing someone who had been dead for nearly a year.

            "Of course! Who else would come out to greet you?" she answered, apparently miffed that he had not believed that it was she. Kyra looked different then form when Tao had last seen her. She was more urethral looking, more angelic. And it was almost like she was transparent. What disturbed him was that he was transparent as well. There weren't even the marks of the arrow wounds on him. Looking up at Dar's lost lover, he said softly "Where am I? What happened to me?"

            Kyra looked sadly at him. "You died." she said simply, "Welcome to Heaven."


            Tao looked at her, dumbfounded. "I died?" he whispered, "I'm really dead?"

            "You're really dead."

            He sighed. Tao had known that this would happen sometime. The travels with Dar were too dangerous for it not to have. But he hadn't expected it to come so soon. Now Dar would be alone. And he hadn't even had sufficient tome to get over Kyra's death yet. The scholar looked around him, and then turned confused eyes back to the departed Sula.

            "Isn't Heaven supposed to be…you know…in the clouds?" he asked. Kyra giggled.

            "Heaven is the place that you are happiest. Obviously, they can't recreated the person you are happiest with, but they give you this to ensure that you are kept at peace." Tao humphed. That was a waste of time to recreate the place you loved if there couldn't be the person who made it so enjoyable with you. Just then, the Sorceress appeared beside them. Tao stared at her.

            "You can't be dead, and I seriously doubt that this is the placed you're happiest, so what are you doing here?" Tao asked, somewhat impolitely. The Sorceress sighed.

            "I am here to let you have one more chance to talk to the BeastMaster. If you are willing," she replied. Tao just stared at her.

            "Why do you have any interest in me? I thought it was Dar you liked?" At this, he felt Kyra stiffen beside him. The Sorceress continued as if he hadn't said anything.

            "I have created a spell that will enable you to talk to the BeastMaster while he sleeps. When  he awakens, you will have to leave."

            "So I get to talk to him in his dreams?" the deceased Eiron questioned.

            "Precisely." she said. Tao just looked at her.

            "How do I know that you are telling the truth?" he said, suspiciously.

            "You'll have to trust me on this one. I have nothing to gain or loose by doing this except the BeastMaster's trust. And as you know, I am willing to do just about anything to get it." The Sorceress looked at him expectantly. Tao glanced uncertainly at Kyra, who just shrugged. With a sigh, he turned back to the Sorceress.

            "What do I need to do?"


            Dar sighed. It had been a week since Tao's death, and he was not able to stray out of sight of Tao's grave. It was almost as if he was waiting for something. But he wasn't sure what. All he knew was that he couldn't let go of the past yet. As he fell into sleeps comforting arms he prayed that wherever his friend was, that he had found peace.

            //Dar was dreaming, he knew. He was back at the plain where Tao had met his death. Cautiously, he looked around, taking in everything. Then suddenly,

            "Dar?" The BeastMaster spun around quickly. He'd know that voice anywhere.

            "Tao?!?" he said, disbelievingly. There he was, just like Dar remembered. Tao just smiled. "No it can't be." he said to himself. Tao's smile disappeared. "I saw you die." the BeastMaster said hoarsely. The scholar sighed.

            "Yes you did. The Sorceress came up with a way for me to talk to you, this once, while you dream. This will be the last time we can see each other until you cross over." Tears filled the Eiron's eyes as he watched the pain on his best friend's face. Dar looked at him.

            "Can I ask you something?" Tao nodded. "Why?" Dar said softly, "Why did you do it? Sacrifice your life for mine?" Tao sighed again.

            "Dar you have been like a brother to me." he explained, "You have saved my life more than once. And you had more to offer than I did. There are many more Eirons to pass along knowledge. Besides, I doubt I would have lived very long any- way if it had gotten back to Curupira that I didn't save you when I could've." The scholar met the warrior's eyes. "Dar, this was a way to repay you for saving my life. I do not regret doing it. I think you should continue your quest. Dartanus is probably not too pleased with you." Tears were flowing down Dar's face.

            "Tao… I miss you so much. How am I supposed to complete my quest knowing that I was not able to save my best friend?" Tao's only response was to take a step forward and embrace him. Dar returned the gesture wholeheartedly. When Tao stepped back, it was with some reluctance.

            "Dar, not everything that goes wrong is your fault. You do not control fate. You did all that you could." His being seemed to be getting fuzzier. "Dar remember this. You are my brother and I love you like one. I will always watch out for you and will be waiting for you when it is your time to cross. Good luck on your journey." With that he disappeared.//


            Dar woke up with a start. Looking over to the east he saw that it was just after daybreak. He could recall his dream with vivid clarity. Walking over to Tao's grave, he was silent for a minute, giving his final goodbye. After that was done he stood up, facing the rising sun and thinking about his future.

            Suddenly, it didn't feel so empty.