Disclaimer: Beastmaster belongs to Tribune

Authors note: This story is a sequel to 'When a star reached too high' and 'There is a light that never goes out'. I suggest you read those first, otherwise you are going to be terrible confused. Italics mean that the animals are talking with Dar telepathically.

Your destiny lies ahead of you, if you seek it
Eva

Kyra woke up slowly, enjoying the warmth of the early sunlight on her skin, the chill of the night seeping away. She opened her eyes and looked up wonderingly at the canopy of branches above her. It was still hard to believe that she was free and joined with the man she loved, even after more then a full moon.

Slowly she raised herself on one arm, looking around in her new home, the Sanctuary. Tao and Caro were not here. A woman had to give birth that night and Caro was asked to stay and help. Tao didn't want her to stay alone in the village.

Thinking of her friends she had to smile. It was good to have them around here. Tao and Kyra had always liked each other and she had bonded with the female Eiron quickly. It had been Kyra who had been accompanying Caro to the villages where she did her work now as medicine woman and who had been helping Caro to get used to living in the forest, while Tao and Dar had been traveling around to check upon the conditions for the animal in several areas.

Yet, it had not been easy either. All four of them had severe emotional wounds, at the loss of their people, their families, slavery and many other things. Nightmares hadn't been uncommon the last few weeks and neither were long talks, tears or an occasional outburst from anger.

Like last night with Dar. After they made love, when they were simply lying in one another's arms, their talk had again turned to what they had lost. Their tribe. Their families. Their friends. And for what Kyra suspected that wouldn't be the last time, Dar had wept for them. She had held him as his body shook, wracked with silent sobs for the people he had been unable to save. It was worse for him, she come to understand during the last moon: he was a warrior, it had been his duty to protect his people, and he saw it as a failure. There was nothing she could say, nothing she could tell him that would ever ease that pain, she knew. That was something he had to do himself.

Kyra herself had thought that she had worked trough the most of her pain, still in the Terron camp, with Olande. But living here ripped wounds thought long healed open.

She shook herself from her musings, for she had to get ready for the day.

*** Caro leaned back against the log, enjoying the feeling of soft pillows beneath and behind her and closed her eyes. The sun was just starting to rise.

"You okay?" she heard Tao's voice.

Caro opened her eyes. "I am fine. Just exhausted."

Tao was crouching down besides her, holding a nap of damping tea. Caro accepted the nap and sipped it gratefully. She patted down on the pillow besides her. Tao smiled, sitting down and putting an arm around her shoulders. Caro leaned against Tao, sipping her tea.

When the sun had appeared completely over the horizon, Caro was fast asleep with her head against Tao's shoulder. Tao looked down at her, smiling softly and stroking her hair. He spotted a folded a blanket laying nearby, took it and carefully maneuvered the blanket around her without jostling her too much.

It had been true what Curupira had said. Maybe a bit overreacted, but mostly true. After he had seen her in the Burning Forest, Caro had never been far from his mind. The pretty red-haired girl Adranna they had met with Nye and Jem had been clearly attracted to him, but she never been any resemblance to Caro.

Tao knew that Caro was attracted to him. He had not only noticed how her own reactions, but he had never been blind nor deaf to the looks of his two friends and to Kyra's softly whispered words about the things she had unwillingly sensed.

Yet, with the news about their homeland, both of them hadn't made any real steps in the direction of romance.

Then he leaned back against the log, also closing his eyes and surrendering to a light slumber.

***

Sharak watched over the Mydlands as he followed Caro and Tao on their track home. But his thoughts weren't there.

Tell Dar the truth. You may not have the time later. That was what Amora had said. But it was easier said then done. Yet he knew that the time was coming soon.

He knew of the legend Tao had found in the Tenoran temple. He had known about this legend even before he became friend and mentor of Curupira's Beastmasters.

He had had a faint suspicion. After all, how many sorcerers were there who also were warriors, who had seen as an eagle and who had been cursed for loving someone?

But since Kyra turned out to be a mage and quite a strong one and that the woman Tao had found in the Burning Forest had been a medicine woman, he didn't doubt anymore. He could actually place many parts of the legend. Only he had no idea who the Wandress was.

Seeing that Tao and Caro had almost reached the Sanctuary, he screeched to them and turned away. He needed to speak with his. soul mate.

***

Kyra looked up from the basket that she was weaving when she heard Caro and Tao entering the Sanctuary.

She jumped up when she saw Caro's pale face and blood-shot eyes. Tao looked only a bit better. "You two look like death. Must have been a heavy night."

Caro smiled a bit. "Didn't sleep all night. Only a little while in the morning. It was a breech birth. We were very lucky that the baby survived."

Kyra nodded. "Sit down. I will get something to eat and then I would catch some sleep if I were you. Dar went in the direction of the Downs. There had been a small earth slide or something and he needed to check if there weren't too many problems for the animals." She looked at Tao. "He told me that you said you would go with him, but he didn't want you to come after him."

Caro reached in her pack and handed Kyra a woolen blanket and a piece of cheese. "Here. They insisted on giving this."

Kyra nodded and headed in the direction of the cave. There had always been the cave Tao and Dar used for shelter, but the adjoining cave they had never used. When Kyra and Caro had come they had cleared out the second cave and turned in a supply room or closet.

They had made some wooden shelves on which they kept the kitchen equipment, the other tools, the food supplies and the blankets. They used each a basket to keep their personal belongings and clothes. Finally there were a couple drying racks for Caro's herbs. Thanks to Caro's work in the villages they often managed to acquirer some things like oil or cheese. They never asked, but often they were given small gifts.

Kyra placed the gifts on the correct shelf and fetched two bowls with spoons and a few blankets. Outside again, she ladled some of the oatmeal she had made that morning in the bowls and handed them to Tao and Caro. "Have a good meal."

A little while later she went to river to get some water and to wash the bowls. Tao and Caro had gone to sleep. When she returned they had snuggled close to each other, Tao's arm over Caro's shoulder and Caro's head resting against Tao's shoulder.

***

Sharak flew to the new habitat of Amora. It wasn't too different from the Aerie. Just in a different place and much more difficult to find.

But as always he could enter her working chamber from the balcony. He cawed and the woman working there turned around, a smile on her face.

"Sharak." She exclaimed. Amora walked over to the bird and softly stroked his feathers.

Sharak looked her up and down and conveyed a sense of wonder to her.

Amora smiled softly. "I am not the Sorceress anymore, Sharak. It decided it was time show that in how I looked." She did wear a dress anymore where her breasts could fall out every moment. Now it was a simple silk halter dress, embroidered with silver. Around her brow was a silver circlet, with an amethyst in front, flanked with two small pearls. The arrow-shaped pendant was replaced by her old tardarak, a hanger made from amethyst and pearls, captured in ivory.

Amora bit her lip. "Sharak, you know I have been working on Damions spell. I could turn you back the way I once did, but that would be just as easy to undo again. But Mother gave me another idea. She said I could perhaps modify the spell. I have been working on it and I found a spell that can change you in a shape shifter. You would be a sorcerer, with all your abilities, but you would also be able to change in an eagle."

Sharak looked at her, the question clear in his eyes.

"The spell isn't dangerous. The only thing is. it very, very painful." She smiled a bit when she saw Sharak's indigent look. 'Like that ever stopped me before.' "We could do it now if you want to."

It was silent for long time in the working chamber. Finally Amora sensed agreement. She bit her lip one more time. Then she walked over to her table and started putting things in a small bowl. When she finished, she turned back. "Go over there." She pointed to a large empty space.

Sharak flew over and landed on the floor. Amora hesitated one moment then lighted the contents of the bowl. Lighting began to flash trough the chamber.

And where an eagle had sat, a man stood. Then the pain came. Fire shot trough his body. It felt like every bone, every organ, everything was being wrung in a new shape.

Sharak fell to the ground and started writhing in pain, struggling to keep from screaming. Amora quickly put the bowl down and felt to her knees besides him.

Vague, trough the pain he saw the tears glistering on her face and he heard her murmur: "I am sorry, Sharak. I am so sorry. But it's the only way."

***

Dar returned when the sun already started his journey to the western horizon. He greeted Kyra with a soft kiss on her forehead.

Kyra smiled. "Everything fine there?" she spoke softly.

When Dar started to reply she held a finger to his lips and pointed to the still sleeping couple. Quickly an understanding look appeared on his face. "There won't be any major conse-quences." He gestured to the sleeping couple. "When did they come back?"

"A while after sunrise. They had a rough night and didn't get any sleep." Kyra replied.

"How about some sparring and then a dive in the river?"

"Sounds good. You get the towels and anything else we need. I will leave a message for Tao and Caro." She gestured to the cave and walked to the flat slab of stone she had been practicing on. Quickly she grabbed some charcoal and wrote the message down.

***

Sharak woke slowly. He was lying on a soft bed, a light blanket placed over him. He still ached everywhere, but the fire had disappeared.

"How are you feeling?" Amora appeared besides him and sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Still sore, but I will live." Sharak started to sit up.

Amora quickly pushed him back. "Take it easy. You will still be able to communicate with Dar and other animals in your eagle shape, but you will also have your magic and your warrior skills back in human form. But it doesn't undo the immortality."

"Thank you, my love."

"It was nothing." She handed him a cup with a foul-smelling liquid. "Nadara gave this to me. It would help you to recover faster. Try to get some rest then."

Sharak quickly tossed back the potion and closed his eyes again.

***

Damion started in his onyx bowl. "This isn't going as I want. This totally isn't going what I want. Let's see who we have." He slowly moved his hand over the bowl. "The Beastmaster. the Scholar. the Medicine Woman. the Soul Mage. the Sorcerer." By the final wave of his hand the bowl remained empty. "But who is the Wandress?"

He swirled around in a flash of black, disappearing to appear in the yurt of King Zad. "I have a mission for you, King."

The bold figure turned around. "Ancient One? What can I do for you?"

"You haven't been having much success with capturing them, haven't you? But I have another mission. I need you to capture every wandering woman alone. But only if they don't belong in a village. And I need them in perfect condition."

Zad grumbled a bit, but nodded. "It will be done."

Damion appeared in a flash of black.

***

"You don't have to take it easy on me." Kyra said as she gave Dar a hand of the ground. "Zad's men won't do the same."

Dar smiled. "Be careful what you ask for. But how about a swim now?"

Kyra shrugged. "Fine."

Dar watched as she quickly pulled her leather top and skirt of and dove in the water only wearing the soft colored underwear. He had been feeling very content, the last moon. He was with the love of his life, his best friend had not left, Zad was lying very low at the moment and watching Tao explore his relationship with Caro was special and very cute.

At Kyra's shout he also quickly removed part of his loincloth and dove after Kyra.

She would never be a fighter, he realized. She was more like Tao, wanting to talk first and her mage abilities were a formidable weapon. But after they had returned she had asked him to teach her, claiming she needed more to defend herself than her blow pipe and her mage abilities. He also had been helping her to practice the skills every young Sula woman had, for they had atrophied during her time captive.

Suddenly a splash of water ended up over his head.

"There is time for brooding later, Dar." Kyra called as a second splash arrived.

Dar shook the wet hair out of his hair, laughed and dove after her. Kyra squalled and dove away. Dar however managed to grab her arm and turned her around. Their lips met in a familiar warm kiss.

***

Caro woke up absolutely content. There was something lying over arms and chest, but it didn't feel constricted.

Slowly she opened her eyes and looked in Tao's face. The first time she had seen him in the Burning Forest she had directly liked him. A few days after she had started kicking herself for two things. First was breaking down there in the cave. Second she had started kicking herself for not taking upon his offer to stay a couple of days. During her travel she had started to like him and more. Her logical mind started telling her that she might have started to create an idolized image of him.

But now here, with him, she didn't know what to do. Adjusting to life in the forest, the news about their people.

She hardly noticed two dark brown eyes looking back at her. "Sleep well."

Caro smiled. "Perfectly.How long have we been sleeping?" She sat up and looked around. "And where are Dar and Kyra?"

Tao had sat up also and looked at the sun. "I think we slept most of the day. It won't be long before the sun sets." Tao let the blanket slide of his legs and stood up. Looking around, he spotted the stone with the message of Kyra. "They are at the river. They ask us to join if we want."

Caro looked up from the blankets she was folding. "I could use a bath. Do you want to go too?"

At Tao's nod she said: "Let me clean this up and get some things." Caro quickly walked to the cave, put away the blankets and gathered her blue dress, two towels and her comb.

Within seconds they had disappeared in the foliage.

***

Amora slowly ran her hand over the weapon before her. "So beautiful, yet so deadly." She pushed away the cloth of the other objects before her.

Suddenly she looked up, sensing that Sharak was waking up again. Glancing over to the objects for the last time, she quickly went to her bedroom.

***

When Tao and Caro approached the bushes separating the path and the river, they heard squealing. Both stopped, glancing at each other. They remembered what happened a few days when they walked up to them.

"Kyra, Dar, is it safe to join you?" Caro called.

They heard laughing, then Dar's voice called: "Come on." A few seconds later they heard again a squall and the splash of water.

Tao and Caro smiled and went trough the bushes. Their smiling changed in laughing when they saw Dar chasing Kyra trough the water. Occasionally Kyra tried to splash him, but she wasn't having much success.

Caro shook her head and put her things down. With quick movements she shed her ochre blouse and pants, only wearing the same clothing as Kyra was wearing. She took a few seconds to soak her blouse and pants into in a shallow pool, then dived into the water, carefully avoiding the dashing couple.

Unfortunately Kyra took her chance and soaked her with a splash.

Caro laughed and called: "Come on, Tao."

Tao quickly shed his upper layers of cloths and joined them in the water. Their laughter from the full-fledged water war between the four young people.

***

Sharak woke up again. This time even most of the soreness had gone.

A few seconds later Amora entered with soft footsteps. "Feeling better than last time?"

Sharak sat up and smiled. "That potion of your niece worked very well."

Amora sat down. "Ready to try it?"

Sharak nodded and got of the bed. He walked over to an open space in the room and focused. His eyes shifted to his animal eyes and within a few seconds an eagle sat on the floor. The eagle flew up and tested his wings. Then he landed again and changed back.

Amora was smiling widely. "It worked!"

Sharak hugged her gently. "You did it, my love."

Amora smiled even wider. "I have another surprise for you." Sharak followed her back to her work room. "You are a sorcerer again with all your powers. Also you are a warrior again. But you need weapons." She stepped away from the table.

Sharak's mouth fell open. "The Liunde sword. Where did you get this?"

"Darius had it. The Liunde have disappeared many decades ago. But the sword was still there. I have something else for you." She handed him two crossed, studded leather bands with a sheath attached to it.

Sharak fastened them around his chest and slid the sword in the sheath. Amora then handed him two leather bracers with brass copper plating. He put them on, then hugged Amora again.

"I have to go. I need to talk to Dar and the others."

Amora nodded. "Good luck, my love."

Sharak transformed and flew off.

***

"This is a rich land. Good to rule." The man said. He was completely dressed in white. Pants, shirt and kind of flowing overcoat. His hair was a very light blond, a pale skin and sharp eyes.

"If you say so, my liege." One of the warriors replied.

"Of course I say so." He turned to a woman standing at the side. "My tracker. I need to know. Who could possibly oppose us? Are there any large settlements? You know."

The woman nodded. "Of course, Voden." The woman checked her dagger and sword, then left the tent.

"Wait." The man grumbled. "You."

***

The woman gently stroked the wolf sitting besides her. "What's wrong, Slayer? Why are you so restless?"

The answer arrived already soon in the form of six Terron soldiers. Zuraya tried to get away, but before she could get away, they had surrounded her.

She stooped down for the weapons in her boots, but before she could reach it a rope fell around her shoulders. "Well. well. well." she said. "Intelligent Terrons. It's miracle."

Two other ropes landed around her shoulders and slipped down, effectively bounding her hands. Zuraya quickly turned to her wolf. "Go Slayer. There is nothing you can do. Find help." She lashed out with her foot, nailing one of them in chest hard enough one bone on the vest let go.

The big grey wolf grabbed the bone and ran off with big strides, dashing underneath a horse.

Zuraya turned to glare at the soldier. Outside she was calm, but on the inside she was shaking. She had heard about the Terrons. She had come trough a village once, attacked by them. She had even been helping the two or three survivors.

"Do you live around her, girl?"

"No. But what does that matter to you?"

"Nothing. You are coming with us." One of the Terrons said.

"You are not even grabbing me now? A miracle."

"You are very lucky, girl. We have orders. Otherwise. And I would be silent if I were you. If we get mad, we could decide to disobey our orders."

This tread made Zuraya silent. She followed them without hesitation, hoping on the inside Slayer would find help.

***

Sharak circled above the river. The four had abandoned their water play and they were sitting on the riverbank, letting themselves dry up. Kyra and Caro were combing out their hair and in the meantime they were discussing Zad's lack of activity.

Sharak went down and landed on a nearby branch. Dar?

Dar looked over at the branch where Sharak was sitting. Is there something wrong?

There is nothing wrong, youngling. But I do need to show and tell something to the four of you. I only ask that you will hear me out and that you ask the same of your companions.

Dar looked confused, but nevertheless he looked over at his friends and said: "Sharak says he has something to show and tell us. He also asked us to promise to hear us out." What is this about, Sharak?

You will find out in a moment, youngling. Sharak listened as the other three gave their consent and flew up. He landed on the ground and focused. In a flash of light he was in his human form again.

***

Dar knew he was staring. But that didn't matter at the moment. The eagle had changed in a man. A familiar man. "We met you before. You were that man at the Burning Forest."

Sharak nodded. "That is true. The Apparition took Amora and the Ancient One ordered me to save her." He sat down.

Dar was feeling the beginning of anger. "And would you be so kind to explain this?"

"Of course. Thousands of years ago I came from a tribe called the Liunde, a tribe of warriors. When I was about eighteen a sorcerer came to our family. He wanted me to become his student. I accepted, out of fear for what he would have done to my family. That sorcerer was The Ancient One or Damion." Sharak saw the shocked faces. "And I stayed his student for more than hundred years. I worked and studied together with his other student. And that's where the trouble started." Sharak looked to Tao. "Tao, you once said that human emotions were forbidden to sorcerers. And that's just it. The other student. you know her as Amora. and I fell in love. When Damion found out he was furious. He cursed us both. Amora had all her memories of us and our love taken from her. And my curse was to be made immortal and to roam the skies in the form of an eagle."

"And what changed?" Caro asked. She had not known much about Damion and Amora, but during the last month they had filled her in on most things.

"Amora changed me back once. Just before you rescued Kyra, Dar. But Damion changed me back just as fast. Then Amora was freed. She searched for a spell that could undo the curse. But instead she found a way to modify the curse. And that changed me in a shapeshifter."

"And that means?" Dar interrupted, now really angry.

"It means that I can change between my eagle and human shape. As human I still have my warrior and sorcerer skills. As eagle I can still communicate with you and with other animals." Sharak explained.

"So, you kept all of this hidden to me! Why?!" Dar spoke up, anger very clear in his voice.

"I have thought about telling you many times, but every time I couldn't." Sharak replied softly.

Dar jumped up. "Great friend are you." He spat out and disappeared in the woods.

"Dar!" Tao jumped up and went after him.

Sharak remained behind, sitting with his head down. He looked up when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"It will be okay. Give him the chance to work trough the first of his anger, then go talk with him." Kyra said, looking into his eyes.

Sharak was surprised at what she saw in her eyes. Sorrow, compassion, but not a splinter of surprise. "You knew, didn't you?"

Kyra nodded. "I spent a long time in your formers mentors mind. Not much to do there, except digging trough his memories. But it was up to you to tell it when you were ready."

Sharak smiled a bit. "Thanks you." He stood up and transformed in into his eagle shape, flying up.

Kyra looked over at Caro. "Let's get dressed and head back to the Sanctuary."

***

"Dar! Dar, wait a moment." Tao hurried after Dar, who was walking with big strides.

At his friend's voice he stopped. "What?"

"Why are you so angry?" Tao stopped besides his friend. "That isn't you."

"Maybe it's the fact that someone I consider a friend lied to me."

"Do you still consider him a friend?" Tao sat down on the forest ground and gestured Dar to sit besides him.

"I don't know."

"Dar, did you ever ask him about his past?"

"What do you mean?"

"Have you ever really asked him: Sharak, what is the story about your past?"

"Not. really." Dar was beginning to see Tao's point.

"Then how could he have lied to you if you never really spoke about it. Are you feeling uneasy about the fact he is a sorcerer?" When he saw Dar's face he knew he had hit another point. "I know you have been changing your opinion about magic. but you are still not really at ease with it."

They heard the screech of an eagle above their heads. Dar looked up, doubting for a moment. You can join us. my friend.

Sharak landed and transformed in his human shape. He hesitated for a moment, but when Tao nodded he sat down.

"I have though about telling about it many times. But every time something stopped me. It hurt me too much. You must remember how you felt when you lost Kyra. And it became worse when you were separated longer. That was my pain, but then from decades, eons old. And your experiences with sorcerers weren't too well, so that was also a difficult point."

"I understand, Sharak. I think I overreacted a bit." Dar apologized.

"Don't worry about it. Your reactions were actually a lot better then I expected. Kyra already knew it."

"Kyra knew about it?" Two voices chorused.

"She saw it in the head of Damion when she was captured. She didn't tell anyone about it because she found it was my choice to reveal when and where."

Suddenly they were interrupted by a large grey wolf appearing from the bushes. All three jumped up.

Dar, immediately recognizing the wolf, said: "Slayer? Where is Zuraya?"

In reply Slayer dropped something. Tao crunched down and surveyed the object curiously. When he looked up again his face was grave. "Dar, this is a bone from a Terron vest."

The three looked at each other.

Sharak was the first to react. "I will go and check the camp." He transformed back and flew up.

Dar and Tao looked at each other. "Let's get the ladies." Both hurried of, Slayer following.

***

On their way back Kyra and Caro were silent.

"Where are you with your thoughts?" Caro asked softly.

"Not to far away. I am just thinking."

"About what?"

"Just about what we just heard." Kyra looked around her. "There is someone around here. And his intentions aren't t good."

***

Qord watched the two girls move trough the forest. With them as bait he would lure the Beastmaster and his friend into a trap and then take control of the Terrons.

How little did he know that he already had been spotted.

***

Kyra quickly lowered her voice to a whisper. "He is following us. Continue walking. I will track back and see if I can find out who it is." She reached in her bag with darts and slid one in Caro's hand.

Caro nodded and spoke out loud. "Kyra, I have forgotten to fill my water skin. Would you mind doing that, then I will start diner." She winked.

Kyra quickly agreed and went back. With her mage senses she quickly located the figure following them and followed him instead. She moved through the forest completely without noise, using her Sula-honed skills.

She grimaced when she finally spotted the man. 'Qord. you bastard." she thought. The man before her had caused many of the cases Olandes group had been caring for during her time in the Terron camp.

Suddenly the man dashed forward. Kyra realized what where he was up to and darted after him, in the meantime grabbing her blowing pipe.

***

Caro hardly had a warning. She heard a slight shuffle from feet before two arms closed around her from behind.

She had never been formally trained in the fighting arts, but traveling around for years, meeting all kind of people and living with an excellent warrior for the last month had taught her a quite a few things about handling herself in a fight.

With a swift movement she kicked the attacker in the knee. She felt the arms around her loosening and turned around her attackers arm. Realizing the attacker was male, she hitched her knee up to the most sensitive part of the male body. At the same time she jammed the dart in the exposed arm.

Qord let go and howled as his groin exploded in pain and as he felt several pricks over his body. Then everything became black and Qord keeled over.

Caro quickly jumped aside and looked behind the downed Terron. Kyra was standing there with her pipe in one hand, a couple of darts in the other. She looked again down at Qord again. "He doesn't look to friendly."

Kyra approached her with a strong vine in her hands. "He isn't very friendly. Let's tie him up and then we will drag him back to the Sanctuary. He should be out for a while."

***

Sharak flew over the camp, observing everything carefully. There wasn't much interesting to see. Terron soldiers and slaves were going on with their daily tasks.

He made another circle. There was it. Two men dragged a woman with blond hair between them to Zad's yurt. Sharak landed on the roof and peeked down the hole in the roof.

He listened carefully to their conservation. Knowing enough he took of.

***

Zuraya let herself be dragged to Zad's yurt. When she entered, the king looked up.

"My king." The guards stood at attention, still holding Zuraya between them.

"What do you want?" Zad said.

"We found this girl, King Zad. She had no home."

Zad approached them and looked her up and down. "Tasty."

"You looking for a new play thing, Zad? Never think you will own me." Zuraya spat out.

One of the soldiers slapped her in the face. "Shut you mouth, bitch."

"I like you, but unfortunately I have another plan for you." Zad spoke directly to the guards. "Take her to the cage. Let no one touch her. No one. Or you will be very unhappy."

Both guards nodded and left, dragging Zuraya with them.

***

When Tao and Dar arrived at the Sanctuary with Slayer on their heels, they were kinda stunned. Not from Caro, who was cutting up some vegetables and not from Kyra, who was stirring in a pot above the fire. But it was the sight of an unconscious Qord, bound and gagged, lying near the fire.

"How did he get here?" Tao for once stumbled over his words.

Caro looked up from her vegetables. "Kyra felt someone following us. She tracked back to see who it was. He tried to grab me, but in the end he got hit by five or six darts. He should be napping for quite some time."

Kyra also looked up. "Did you settle things with Sharak?"

Dar nodded. "We did. But we have a problem. A friend is captured by the Terrons. We need to get her away from there. Sharak is currently checking the camp. We are leaving as soon as he gets back."

"Couldn't you have picked a better time?" Kyra muttered, but she removed the pot from the fire.

Caro also moved to put away what she was doing. "All four of us are going?" she asked.

"Caro, when dealing with Terrons you need all the help you can get." Tao explained softly.

Dar in the meantime was looking at the sundown. "We will never get to camp before dark. We will set up camp nearby, then act by sunrise."

Tao nodded. "But what do we do with him?" he gestured to Qord. "We can't leave him here."

"And we can't leave him in the forest." Dar mused,

We will tie him up on a tree outside the Sanctuary. With one hand free and the knot so high he can't get himself lose. Put some food and blanket with him and we will take care of him when we are back." Tao suggested.

Dar looked at Tao incredulously for moment, then shrugged. "Why not?"

Tao went to grab a blanket and some food while Dar dragged the man outside the Sanctuary and tied him up.

***

When Caro and Kyra joined them later, both were dressed in their leather travel outfits and their backpacks in hand.

Kyra looked around. "Where is Qord?"

When Tao explained what they had done, both women had to smile. However they turned serious when Sharak landed and changed into human form.

"They have her at the Terron camp. They don't seem to intend to hurt. Someone seems to have forbidden that to Zad. He ordered to take her to a place he called the cage." Sharak reported.

Dar nodded. "Let's go. We will go to the Ring Stones tonight. We'll stay the night and morning at sunrise we will get her out."

All four quickly started their journey. Slayer followed and Sharak changed back into his eagle shape, flying up. Half a mile outside the Sanctuary Ruh joined them.

***

Kyn'raem, mother priestess from the Yesmyria temple in Tenora, startled from her meditation. It was clear what Yesmyria wanted her to do.

"Kwani." She called.

A young priestess, since short one of her attendants, entered trough the curtain. "Yes, Mathair?"

"Find Ayla and Myrine and sent them here. Go to the library then and get the scroll with the legend of the Gallatin . Finally I need everything ready to travel for two persons at sunrise."

Kwani nodded. "Will be done, Mathair." She quickly left to start her tasks.

Kyn looked at the wall. It was beginning.

***

It was a little while after complete dark when the four arrived at the Ring Stones. They made no fire to prevent discovery. But this was no new situation for any of them.

Quickly Tao and Caro prepared the bedrolls and packed out the food they had brought, while Kyra and Dar checked the surrounding. Dar was with Slayer, Kyra with Ruh as they checked around for danger. Sharak flew above them, relaying what he saw to Dar.

When they returned the four sat down and Caro handed out some bread, cheese and fruit to everyone.

"There is nothing to see, but we need to stay alert." Dar reported.

"I didn't find anything that suggests danger. I also can't sense anyone nearby." Kyra added softly.

Sharak flew over, quickly communicating with Dar. Youngling, there is a woman in trouble nearby, fighting Terrons. She seems to be holding herself, but she could use help.

Dar quickly relayed his words as he stood up and grabbed his staff. "I will be back a little while before sunrise." Stay here with them.

Sharak landed and transformed back. He also accepted some bread and cheese. The three others quickly went to sleep on Sharaks urging. He would keep guard

***

Dar moved quickly trough the bushes. Ruh was just behind him.

Coming closer he heard the sounds of battle. Some Terrons were carrying torches and in the flickering light he saw a dark-skinned woman carving her way with a flashing sword, her long, dark hair was flying after her.

Dar crept up stealthily, letting the blunt end of his staff hit the head of one of the Terrons soldiers. Ruh chose that moment to jump forward and the half of the soldiers turned to the large tiger and the blond haired man.

The battle was over quickly with the woman, Dar and the large tiger working together. When Dar bent down to pick up a torch, he was presented with the sword to his troth.

"Drop your staff and rise slowly." A voice said. The voice was low and carried the lilt of the savanna tribes.

Dar obeyed and raised slowly, torch in his hand. For the first time he got a good look at the woman before him. She was wearing a dark red top with a halter neck and a short skirt just hitting mid-thigh. Leather boots reached till her knees and knees guard were firmly in place... The bracers around her wrists and her top were decorated with small copper plates. Her hair was done in braids, with a couple of feathers which Dar recognized as falcon feathers.

"Who are you?" she asked, her dark brown eyes glinting.

"My name is Dar and I am not a treat to you. I came here to help. I am alone." Dar replied.

The woman glanced at her surroundings, her eyes falling on Ruh standing nearby. "And the tiger?"

"He is a friend. Ruh won't do any harm." He looked over to Ruh. Go, Ruh. You can stay in the neighborhood, but get out of sight.

I don't like this, young one. But I will do what you ask.

Thank you, my friend. I am handling things. Dar replied.

"What are you doing?" the woman asked.

"I asked him to leave. He agreed."

"Right, you asked. And next you are gonna tell me that you talk to animals?"

Dar couldn't stop it. He had to smile. "That was not directly on my mind, but now you ask. Yes, I can talk to animals." Dar slowly stepped away from the sword. "Listen, I don't mean you any harm. What's your name?"

***

Arina surveyed the man, Dar, before her for the last time. She lowered her sword and returned it to scabbard on her back. "The name is Arina."

Dar bent down to pick up his staff. "It's good to meet you, Arina. Do you have any idea why they were after you?"

She shrugged. "They mentioned something about capturing every woman traveling alone. And one of them said something like: a quiet one. I bet I can make her scream with pleasure and pain."

Dar's face clouded over at the last words.

Arina noticed it. "So, you talk to animals?" she asked, sitting down without really noticing it.

Dar however did and followed her example. "I do."

"And the animals always do what you ask?" Arina asked.

Dar replied with a smile: "Sometimes. They are like humans. They listen, but it doesn't always mean they heard you."

***

Kyra woke up slowly. She looked up at the moon, seeing it was just after his highest point. When her eyes had adjusted completely to the dark she looked around. Tao and Caro were still sleeping, snuggled closely together. Sharak was sitting, sword in his lap.

She quickly put the knife and water bag on her belt, grabbed the bag which held her blowing pipe and walked over to Sharak. "I am going to find Dar. If he is still fighting he could use some help and we need him in the morning."

Sharak hardly had the chance to react, for Kyra had disappeared in the bushes easily.

***

Kyra moved trough the bushes. It was too dark to really see the tracks, but with her shields lowered she could easily find Dar.

When she approached his position, she encountered Ruh. "What are you doing here?" she asked softly and kneeled down to stroke the tiger.

She clearly received his displeasure at her partner and he growled softly. "I will go and check it out, okay?"

She pulled out her blow pipe and put a dart in it.

***

"Do you have woman?" Arina asked. She and Dar had been talking for some time. Both didn't trust each, but the air wasn't tense.

Dar was about to reply, but a voice from the bushes answered. "He does."

Arina jumped up and grabbed her sword. Dar also stood up, but held up a hand.

"It's okay."

Kyra appeared from the bushes and surveyed the situation, pipe still in her hand. Seeing and sensing no immediate danger, she turned to Dar. "What are you still doing here? I thought we had to save a friend in the morning."

"Sit down for a moment, Kyra. Arina, this is my wife Kyra. Kyra, this is Arina."

Both women nodded to each other and Kyra looked around to spot a body of a dead Terron.

"Looks like you had some trouble."

Arina shrugged. "Just some Terrons."

But Kyra wasn't easily fooled. Her shields still more lowered then she normally did, she sensed something at the word Terrons. Carefully she looked over at Arina, opening her shields even more to the woman before her. What hit her was very clear. She had sensed it hundreds of times in the Terron camp and Dar, Tao, Caro and she herself still carried the traces of it. Closing her eyes for a second she quickly put it at the back of her mind.

She turned back to Dar. "We should get back. I kinda blew of Sharak and I don't want him to wake Caro and Tao to start searching for me."

Dar nodded. "We have to go, Arina. Be careful when you continue your travels."

"Have a good journey, Arina."

Arina was shocked at the emotions she saw in the young woman's eyes. Sorrow, pain and sympathy played trough them. When they had disappeared from sight, she also slid into the bushes, going in a completely different direction.

***

"Why are looking at her, mother?" Amora asked, standing besides Yesmyria's scrying bowl.

"I am not sure, my little one. Let's see what we can find out." The dark- haired woman took some herbs and sprinkled them over the bowl.

The water inside shifted until it showed a white surface with a black half moon one it.

"She will have something a Dark One will want. And it's up to the Warriors of Balance to tie it to White Side."

"I don't understand a thing of that, Mother."

"Me neither, daughter. me neither."

***

Sharak jumped up when Kyra and Dar strode into camp. "Why did you leave like that?"

Kyra smiled a bit. "I wanted to check on my partner. I can defend myself, Sharak. I am not saying that Caro and Tao can't, but I couldn't leave them alone here."

Dar looked over at the horizon in the meantime. "It's getting lighter in the east. We need to finalize our plan."

Sharak and Kyra also looked over and both nodded. Dar went to wake up the sleeping couple, while Kyra quickly gathered some fruit to hand out for breakfast.

***

When first sunrays peeked over the horizon, four young people and an immortal one were crouching on a small hill. Life was just starting in the camp. Slaves were appearing and they restarted the fires that had gone out last night. Others were walking in the direction of the lake to gather water.

Dar looked over at Sharak and nodded. Sharak nodded back and stood up. He raised his hands at hip height, palms to the ground. Slowly he raised them further, thick white fog rising up. Then he pushed it away in the direction of the Terron camp.

They waited until the fog covered the camp, making it impossible to see more than a few feet ahead of you. When it was time, Kyra and Caro stood up. Both pulled the hoods from their dark cloaks over their heads and disappeared into the camp.

Sharak transformed, flew up and followed them.

***

Kyra and Caro slowly moved trough the camp. Not a sound betrayed their path. When they encountered a Terron soldier, Kyra would raise the blowing pipe to her mouth and fire a dart or Caro would sneak up and push a dart into his arms.

The slaves had long since disappeared into the yurts at orders of their masters.

Finally Kyra sensed that most of the guards were out and sent a feeling of conformation up to Sharak.

***

Dar was waiting anxiously on the hill. He had not been happy with the plan Kyra had had, but he had to admit it was a smart idea.

Your turn, Dar. He suddenly heard Sharak's voice into his head.

"Time to go." Dar and Tao got up and also moved in the direction of the Terron camp.

***

Zuraya was pacing, for how far that went with the rope around her neck and her wrists bound behind her back. She had slumbered for a few moments at a time that night, but that was all. She had been left alone since they had put her in here, except when they had given her some bites of some stale bread and a few sips from a rusty dipper with muddy water.

This was too unusual from what she knew from normal Terron action. They would attack a village or a group of lone travelers. They would kill anyone they would like. They might spare a few of them to have fun with at the feasts. Who survived that would be brought back to the camp to be used for more fun and to do the tasks the Terrons thought themselves to high and mighty for.

'Fun.' she thought. 'Yeah right. Translate that in to rape and torture. I hope Slayer managed to find some help.'

She went back to full alert when mist started to waft trough the braches of the place she was being held. The morning sounds, which had just started, slowly disappeared again.

Desperately she looked around for something she might be able to use as a weapon. The more irritating it was her own weapons were just lying a few feet away from the cage. There was nothing, except for one motty blanket which she had used that night to get a bit of warmth. "This had no use." She muttered, tugging for the umpteenth time at the ropes surrounding her wrists.

She turned her head quickly in the direction of the entrance when loud shouts from the outside sounded and a figure rolled inside. He quickly got to his feet and looked in her direction.

"Tao? How?"

"Slayer found us." Tao grabbed the knife from his belt and started to cut her bindings. "Dar is outside, holding of the last few guards."

Zuraya nodded and rubbed her wrists, while Tao cut the rope around her neck. That finished both quickly rolled outside again, Zuraya quickly grabbing her weapons which had been lying nearby.

***

Kyn'raem quickly mounted her Dalisha and looked down at her best friend. "I trust you can keep everything together."

Ayla nodded. "Everything will be fine."

Kyn nodded back and looked over at Myrine at the horse besides her. "Let's go."

They started calmly, but when possible they set the horses a quickest tempo possible without tiring the horses too much.

***

"Damn." Caro muttered softly, as she heard the sounds of mayhem. "Kyra, we mist a couple of them."

Kyra didn't reply, but was staring intently at one of the yurt.

"Kyra? We need to get out of here."

Kyra ignored the medicine woman at her side, but started to stroll in the direction of the yurt.

Caro followed her and put a hand on her shoulder. "Kyra, what are you up?"

"It's Zad's yurt." she replied as she shook Caro's hand of and continued strolling.

Caro looked after her for a second, shook her head and hurried after her. She caught up just as Kyra kicked open the door and continued strolling inside.

"Hello Zad!" Kyra had put her pipe away and the knife from her belt lied in her hand.

Zad woke up with a start. "What?! Who are you?" He stared up at Kyra. Her body and face were hidden in her purple cloak and the mist wafting inside gave it a spooky glow. "Are you the Apparition?"

"You might wish I was. You know me, Zad. I saw what you did. How you killed, murdered, raped and tortured. You killed hundreds of innocents. But before you go, you will know who chose to avenge them." Kyra slowly raised her hand with the knife and with the other she shoved the hood of her cloak back. "Your time of terror has ended."

***

Caro stood in the door opening, unsure about what she should do. She stared at the raised knife, wondering a bit about Kyra's hesitation. Suddenly she heard Sharak screeching above. Quickly she stepped besides Kyra.

"You will have to save that for another time, girl." With those words she grabbed a dart and pushed in Zad's chest. "We need to get going."

Kyra didn't react. Caro gently took the knife from Kyra's hands and placed again in the sheath on Kyra's belt. Only when she reached up to pull the hood over Kyra's face, she stopped.

Kyra's eyes were filled with a deep rage and hate. 'Eyes are mirrors of the soul.' The ancient words rang trough Caro's head. She cupped the cheek of the woman who had become the closest female friend she had had in years. "This isn't the way, girl. He needs a trial. You told me that. You told me that if you had the chance to kill him you wouldn't do it, because he deserved a trial. Don't let your emotions control you now. I won't let you kill him."

During her word the rage and hate had softened. Now Kyra blinked and her eyes filled with tears. "What was I doing." she murmured.

"You didn't do anything. You stopped." Caro slowly whipped the tears away.

"I didn't stop. You stopped me!"

Caro shook her head. "Do you truly believe I would have been able to stop you? You stopped yourself. You hesitated long enough that I believe you wouldn't have killed him." She heard Sharak screeching outside again. "We need to get going!"

At those words Kyra pulled herself together and nodded. Both woman hurried outside and disappeared over the hill in the direction of the Ring Stones.

***

Sella sat up with a shock in this early morning. 'The fight for the balance starts.' she realized.

Quickly she climbed out of her furs and looked outside to see that the sun was just rising. 'Should I do it or not?' Sella stood in doubt for a few moments.

Among the Argon people, she hadn't been much respected. She had been taught enough as had been necessary for the daughter of the High Priest and a lower ranking priestess. She had been a competent housekeeper for her father after her mothers' death and she was a talented artist. But that had been all.

At least, to the most people it had appeared like that. Only she, her father and the old priestess who had taught her had known she had been trained as her father successor. And ever more important, they had taught her how to use The Second Sight.

For that was what she truly had been. A Seeress and a good one too. She had given visions to her people, but only with her identity hidden by wide robes, a cloak with a hood and a veil before her face.

After the Terron attack everyone who had known about her abilities had been death, save for herself and she hadn't revealed it to anyone. But with she had sensed with the shifting balance she had acquired what she needed to gain best access to her gift.

"Time to face the music." she murmured softly.

First she went to the herb garden and gathered some lavender flowers and a few wild-rose hips. She also cut of a few branches of juniper and a small piece of hazel. In the kitchen she acquired a piece of bread and some salt, wine and oil.

Back into her room she started a fire and then opened a small chest. From it she removed a shining silver mirror and a blue bottle with blessed well water. She placed the mirror before the fire and placed the bottle besides it.

Then she put the thong out of her and stripped of her garments. When she stood naked a newborn before the fire, she threw the juniper of the fire. As smoke rose, she bound the piece of hazel on her forehead, placed the fruit and flowers before the fire, then touched some salt and oil on her breasts and took a sip of wine a bit of the bread.

Finally she kneeled down and poured some of the water on the mirror. "By common things and by uncommon, by water and fire, salt, oil and wine, by fruits and flowers together, I beg to the Divine, show me the shift of balance."

As she looked in the reflection of the fire in the water, it began to shift and Sella was sucked into a world of dazzling images.

***

Dar heard Tao and Zuraya stumbling from the door. Quickly parrying a blow from a club, he glanced over his shoulder.

Two soldiers were immediately on them. Tao ducked under a swinging sword, while Zuraya caught it in two strangely shaped weapons in her hand. She twisted them, yanking the sword out of his hand and launched a kick into the groin of the man, who went down directly.

The other man had directed his attention on Tao. The Eiron was no fighter, but he stood calmly as the man stormed at him. At the last moment he stepped aside. The soldier couldn't halt his progress and he smashed headfirst into the wall.

Dar laughed, while the blunt end of his staff hit the man in the head, finally downing them.

No Terrons in sight, the three disappeared quickly into the bushes so they could meet Kyra and Caro at the ring stones.

***

Caro and Kyra again moved silently through the camp. No guards were in sight. On the outside they appeared calm, but with one of them that wasn't true.

Kyra felt terrible. She had let rage and hate take over. And that in a very dangerous situation. But that wasn't what bothered her the most. Her emotions and feelings were the key to her mage abilities. Too powerful emotions meant lose of control and that could hurt her and people around her.

Caro glanced over and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry too much about what just happened, Kyra. You had a very dark part of your past here. It's understandable you snapped."

Kyra smiled a bit. "Thank you. Let's get out of here."

"That won't be so easy, you two little girls." A soldier grumbled. He and four other cronies appeared before them.

Kyra sighed. "Not again." Both she and Caro readied themselves in a fighting stance.

Suddenly an eagle screeched above them and Sharak dove down from and transformed. He landed with his sword drawn. "Go. I will hold them of." Then he dove in the direction of the soldiers.

Kyra and Caro broke into a run, diving away from the fight. Another soldier appeared before them. Both she and Caro stopped.

"I am getting tired of this." Kyra muttered. She looked sideways to Caro. "Leave this one to me." She raised her hand and focused. Within seconds he sunk to the ground.

Caro stared at her for a second, then followed Kyra and they disappeared into the bushes.

***

Red. amber. blood.a flying ring. purple flashes of light. a pair of cupped hands. a heart. a crown. metal flashing in the sunlight. shouting. a black half moon. the cry of a baby. staffs twirling around. more sounds of battle. screams.

With a shock Sella landed in white mists. She wasn't frightened for she had been here before. Pulling the deep green cloak she was wearing close around her, she started of in the mists.

***

It wasn't long before another figure approached her, also wearing a deep green cloak.

"Mother?"

"It's good to see you again, my daughter. You have finally reclaimed your gift from me."

"I am sorry it took me so long." Sella bowed her head.

The woman before her shoved the hood away from her face, revealing a tumble of bright red hair. Then she reached out and cupped her daughters chin. "You don't have to be sorry, my child. You did what you had. you waited till it was time."

"What did it mean what I saw. I don't understand anything of it."

"You have sensed that the balances were shifting, daughter. There will be a battle to bring them into balance. And you also have a roll to play in that, my little seer." The woman looked around her. "You need to go, child. I will see you again. And now that you have reclaimed your gift, don't be afraid to use it."

Suddenly the mists rose again and Sella was being trust back into her own body.

She had seen again. after more then twelve moons inactivity.

The smoke had disappeared and Sella said a short prayer in thanks. She raised the wine to her mouth, drinking deeply. Then she pulled a simple shift over her head, cleaned away the mirror and the water.

Finally she had the time to sit down, to evaluate what she had seen. She had seen flashed of the battle which would come. The battle for the balance of the world.

'The first time I sensed that the balance was weird was just before Kyra, Dar and Tao arrived.' she remembered. Quickly she stood up. 'Kyn and Myrine aren't here now, but it's time for a little chat with Ayla.'

***

Kyra and Caro surveyed the area around the Ring Stones before they went into the open place.

Kyra looked around her again. Not spotting anyone, she closed her eyes and lowered her shields. Opening them again, she looked at Caro. "They should be here every moment."

Caro nodded, but it was clear her thoughts weren't here.

"Where are you thinking about?" Kyra asked.

"What did you just do with that soldier back in the camp?"

"When I focus enough and I sent the right feelings, I can knock people out with the help of my abilities."

"We have been in trouble before. Why didn't you use it back then?"

"It's more of an advantage if people don't know what I can do. And though I can knock out several people at a time if I have too, it takes a lot out of me."

"I see." Caro spotted the three people approaching them. "There they are."

Kyra also turned to look and smiled when they entered the clearing. She went over to Dar and put her arms around his neck. "You okay?"

"Fine. You also okay?"

Kyra nodded, choosing to omit for the moment what had happened with Zad. She saw Tao hugging Caro and Kyra turned to the final person in their company. She had been kneeling on the ground, with her arms around the large wolf by her side.

When she stood up, Dar spoke: "Zuraya, this is my wife Kyra. Kyra, this is Zuraya, an old friend of mine."

Kyra and Zuraya clasped forearms. "Nice to meet you." Kyra replied. Zuraya nodded and Kyra turned to Caro. "This is Caro." Again forearms were clasped.

"Thanks for the help." Zuraya said finally. "But where are we going now?"

"It was nothing. And in a few moments we will go to the Sanctuary." Dar replied.

Kyra and Caro in the meantime got the backpacks they had hidden nearby. Kyra turned to Dar and asked: "Where is Sharak? He was covering our retreat when Caro and I left."

Dar reached out for his friend. "He says he is fine and that he will meet us back at the Sanctuary."

Caro wanted to fasten the shoulder bands of her backpack when her eyes fell on the angry red marks on Zuraya's wrists and neck. Gently she took Zuraya's wrist to examine them closer. At Zuraya's questioning to gaze, she explained: "I am a healer. How did this happen?"

"Ropes." Zuraya replied simply.

Caro nodded and gently ran her fingers along the red marks on Zuraya's neck. Seeing the blonde wince, she asked: "Would you mind if I put some salve on it?" At her nod she quickly got the aloe vera from her medicine bundle in her backpack and gently applied it.

When this was finished she also shouldered her backpack again and the group quickly left the vicinity from the Terron camp.

***

"What do you have to report?" Voden asked.

"There are some small settlements, nothing to difficult."

Another man interrupted. "There are warriors. They're called. Terrons?"

"They're not warriors. They barely deserve to be called people." Arina replied deftly.

"I hope you judged them fairly."

"Believe me when I say the Terrons will not be missed in this world." She turned back to the King. "But I need to warn you. This is a strange world. We have a lot to do to make it ours."

"We will succeed."

Arina thought back, remembering the man and woman she had met. If this whole world was filled with people like that and not idiots like the Terrons, it would be difficult.

***

Kyn looked around when she and Myrine arrived in the Sanctuary. "Figures. When I really need to speak with them, they are gone. And who the heck was that guy bound to that tree?"

Myrine laughed. "I dunno. Looks like a Terron.Why don't you see if you can sense if they are nearby, then I will take care of the horses?"

"I thought I was the Mathair here." Kyn said, voice slightly treating.

"You know it was just a suggestion. And about being a Mathair. You are the Mathair of the temple, just in a very different way Malvina did was. You are much more. normal. Not so distant."

"Thanks, I guess. By the way, you had a good suggestion."

Myrine grinned and took the reins of Dalisha, while Kyn sunk down with crossed legs.

***

The sun was already on his decent to the western horizon when Kyn and Myrine sensed people approaching.

Both women stood up and Myrine leaned against a tree, smiling. Five people trooped inside, followed by Ruh and a large wolf. Sharak landed on a nearby branch.

"Kept us waiting long enough." Kyn commented when they entered. "What have you been up to?"

"Long story. What's yours?" Dar answered.

Caro and Kyra headed directly inside the cave, putting away their stuff and came out with a small basket of fruit. Zuraya and Tao sat down. Dar joined them and the four women followed a second later.

"Kyn, what brought you here so suddenly?" Tao asked.

Kyn gazed at Tao. "Do you remember the scroll you asked me about when you were at the temple the last time?"

"You mean the scroll of the Gallatin?"

"Yes."

"What are you talking about?" Caro asked.

"When I was just a boy, a prophecy was made. It was the prophecy of the Gallatin. Gallatin is an old word for six. The prophecy speaks of time when everything would be out of balance. In that time six warriors would arise." Sharak had shifted to his human shape and joined them.

"And the world is out of balance. At the temple everyone has been sensing it. I have been sensing it myself.. But what does have that to do with us?" Kyra said softly.

"Listen to the prophecy. Then it will be clear for you." And Kyn read.

"Once a time will approach. A time in which the balance is in danger... But in this time the Gallatin will arise. One is the Beastmaster. Between human and animal.Last of his tribe." Kyn looked over at Dar.

"Me." Dar stated softly. "The last of the Sula."

"I knew it the first time I met you." Kyn replied. "Two is the Scholar. Clothed in the mysteries of scrolls.Traveling far away from home." She looked over at Tao.

"And that would be me." The male Eiron stated.

Kyn only nodded. "Three is the Soul Mage. Healer of spirit and soul.Trained in the camp of pain." Now Kyra was the recipient of her look.

"That's one way to describe my time with the Terrons." Kyra murmured softly.

"Four is the Medicine Woman.Ready to help everyone.Former captive of Darkness."

Caro needed no glance from Kyn. "That would be me."

"Five is the Sorcerer.Warrior, sorcerer, with the sight of an eagle.Cursed for his love."

"I already knew it." Sharak simply said, followed by rolling eyes from the others.

"Six is the Wanderess. Well known in many lands.A slayer among she trusts."

Everyone looked over at Zuraya.

"Me? But you all know each other. How did I end up in this prophecy?" Zuraya stuttered.

Kyn shrugged. "I wish I knew. But there is more. Each a test. Each an artifact. To restore the balance. Each knows pain. Each knows loneliness.Each knows loss.But they won't be alone. But there will be some aidants around.But together they will be strong."

***

"Ayla?"

The blond woman looked up from the scrolls she was working on. "Yes?"

"I need to talk with you for a moment." Sella walked inside the chamber.

"Can it latter? I really need to finish this before noon."

"I don't think so. It has to do with the Gallatin and everything surrounding that."

"That changes things. What did you want to talk about?"

"Do you remember I told you about my mother, about the fact she had the Second Sight?"

"I remember. But what does that have to with the Gallatin?" Ayla asked impatiently.

"I inherited the gift from her. And I reclaimed this morning after a long time."

"I think I can see where this is going."

"I saw things about the battle. There is much more involved then only Tenora and the people of the Gallatin. This battle will forge much more."

"What will it forge? I don't understand you."

"I am not sure myself. All that I know is that it's more massive then Kyn or anyone else assumed it would be. All kinds of outside things are tied to this battle for balance."

"Did you see anything about the. outcome?" Ayla spoke hesitating.

Sella shook her head, red hair dancing up and down. "I wish I did. All I know it's gonna be one heavy battle. Not alone for the Gallatin, but also for us."

Ayla was silent for a few moments, letting everything sink in. "Okay. Don't speak with anyone about this before Kyn and Myrine are back and we have about this with the four of us."

Sella nodded and left, leaving a pensive Ayla behind.

***

"Ho, ho. Wait for a second here. You are saying I am part of some kind of prophecy..." Zuraya stuttered out.

"I am saying you are." Kyn calmly replied. She turned over to look at Tao. "I don't think this comes as surprise to you, Tao."

"To be fair. It doesn't."

"But. this prophecy. it speaks about that the balance of the world is being threatened. What or who is threatening it?" Zuraya asked.

"A god and his name is Damion. You know him as the Ancient One."

"The Ancient One." Disgust and anger were in her voice.

"You are familiar with him by the look of it." Myrine said. She had been silent during the most of the exchange.

"He put a curse on her. To be alone until she killed the Dark One." Dar explained softly, Kyra was cuddled up to him.

"Listen, you are all in the prophecy. But. that doesn't mean that you have to do it." Myrine stated.

"What do you mean, Myrine?" Caro asked softly.

"Yesmyria and everyone fighting with her always had a choice. A choice to help or not. You have the same choice."

"And then? Walk away while we know we could have done something important?" Caro replied.

"Perhaps. But you have a choice. Neither she nor Lumia will hold it against you."

"What would happen if we didn't do it?"

"He would bind with other gods and beings that have the same intention as him. And there are many of them who would do that. Then they would slowly take over the upper realms and following that our realm." Sharak explained.

"Upper realms?" Zuraya asked.

Sharak smoothed a piece of earth and drew a square and divided it in three layers. "The lowest row is our world. Generally that's called the Normal Realm. The middle layer is called the Celestial Realm. In this realm are the various lands of deaths, like de Burning Forest. Also this is the place where Sorcerers and those kinds of people have their homes and meeting places. The upper row is the High Realm, where the gods have their homes. And the Celestial Realm and the High Realm are divided in several lands, just like our realm is." Sharak explained.

"Mount Olympus. That's how they called the land of the Gods from an area where I have traveled for a very long time." Zuraya said.

"It's real. It's a part of the High Realm. I have met some of the inhabitants."

"But back to the subject, I think we don't have a choice. We need to stop him. I have seen his mind. It's an ugly place. Sharak was right."

It was silent for a few moments. Then, one by one, the members of Galatin agreed.

Kyn'raem smiled. "Then I will tell you what you need to know. Each of you will face a test. A test which will earn each of you an amulet. The amulets together form the weapon to stop Damion, but also a tool to do many good things. But the most important weapon and tool are your skills and your ability to work together. Get to know each other, learn from each other. You will find allies, but Damion will find the same. And you will have to find his cronies.

But finally the Galatin have formed."

The end