Disclaimer: I do not own or claim to own these character or show.
A/N: There is a theme of Slash here. Nothing too graphic. Sorry about the wait, all of you reviews encouraged me to get this next chapter up. Thank you and Enjoy.
Tao's first moments of consciousness was looking into the bright sun. His vision was blurry but he could see the black silhouette of something flying above him. Silently Tao prayed to the gods and sorcerers that it was Sharak above him. A few pieces of words entered his head but the fog was still too thick for him to recognize what they were saying. He shook his head though his body was slow to respond to his command.
"Are you awake yet?"
Katan spoke soft somewhere near Tao's right side. The Eiron tried to suppress the shudder that ran through his body. A hand gently touched Tao's check. He jerked his face away.
Tao hissed. He peeked up, seeing Katan sitting uncomfortably close to him. The kind and bright green eyes had become much like Zad's, cold and heartless. Tao wondered how he did not see this before. A hand rested on his shoulder. He tried to dislodge it but the harsh fingers only dug deeper into his skin.
"Tao, look at me."
Tao remained still. Katan released a long breath before forcing Tao to lie on his back, his other hand gripped Tao's chin. The assassin brought Tao's head off the ground slightly.
"Look at me."
Tao opened his eyes revealing their fear and light green taint. He wouldn't admit the intense fear he was feeling right now, even to himself. His only thought was to survive until Dar found him. Although Tao wasn't sure how much survival he would be able to do under Katan's hand.
"Very good. "
Katan smiled, differently than the one he had shown to the Runa children. He slowly released his gripped on Tao's chin. Tao knew the release was conditional and based solely on his cooperation.
"Now, we will be civilized. Are we not already civilized men, Tao?"
"I'm going to move and you will sit up slowly."
Katan shifted his legs, momentarily between Tao's own as he pulled his body up and away. Tao remained still. He swallowed the lump of anger in his throat. He leaned to his right, putting his hand down to push himself up when severe pain shot through his hand to his neck. A cried of pain escaped. Quickly, Katan returned kneeling next to him. Tao cradled his wrist, trying to his shield his injury.
Katan spoke softly. His voice had no rage or anger, it had almost returned to same as when they had first met. Although Tao couldn't think about those times for long as the pain resurfaced in his mind. He hunched his body further over his wrist.
"Tao let me help you."
Tao clenched his teeth through another wave of pain.
"I can do it myself."
He took several deep breaths, trying to figure out exactly what he needed to do to make this pain stop. The injury was from when Dar hit him to get to Katan. But it wasn't Dar's fault, he wouldn't hurt his friends. Tao knew that. And repeated it in his head.
'Besides if I hadn't tried to stop him then he would here and Zad would have captured us. Dar would probably be strung up and beaten for Zad's pleasure. And I…'
Tao shook his head.
'I would be where I am now. Trapped with Katan…. Ah! Pain. Think Tao, what happened? What is injured?'
He remembered falling backwards. He must have put out his hand out to stop his fall and instead put his full weight only onto his right wrist. He knew that it either meant that he had broken the fragile bones there or sprained it. He sincerely hoped for the latter, knowing Dar would be guilt ridden as long as he saw the reminder to his previous actions. He brought his other hand to test the bones along the center of his hand. Nothing shifted more than normal and there was less pain in that region although there was some fresh blood from the few wounds that had opened. Tao released a sigh.
"I thought so. Let me help you."
Katan retorted , his voice slightly on the side of arrogance.
"No I can do it."
Strong arms grabbed Tao underneath his arms, lifting him into a sitting position. He was leaned against a rock for support. Which he knew he needed after he started to sway to the side, even with the rock. The sudden movement jerked his wrist painfully but did no further damage. Tao glared at the assassin who only brushed off the unspoken threat and stared at the wrist.
"You can't apply the herbs with only one hand unless you want it to be infected within the next two suns."
Tao slowly revealed his wrist, cautiously watching Katan. The assassin accepted the wrist; he lightly prodded the areas that had turned completely black and a couple of open cuts. Tao hissed at the pain but made no further objections, fearing the other man that held him in a vulnerable position.
Tao replied, though he wasn't sure if Katan only meant it for the prodding or for holding Tao hostage while Zad continued his hunt for Dar. Katan returned the wrist to Tao's other hand before reaching for Tao's bags.
"Where do you keep the herbs?"
"In the um… the black pouch."
The pouch was wrenched out quickly from the other bag, snapping the leather strapped that Tao used to tie to his waist. He stared, shocked, at the pouch. It had been a gift from a young woman that they- mainly Dar- had saved. Katan presented the pouch as he had with the falcons.
"What, um what do you need? I've never done this before."
Tao looked from the pouch to Katan than back at the pouch.
"The red flowers with the dark stems and…"
His eyes continued scanning over the herbs that lay both on the ground and in Katan's open hands. On the tip of Katan's fingers was a small brown bean flecked with black and ivory coloring. It had come from a large bush with stems of prickly red and orange flowers bundled together in little balls. The stem of the plant held many sharp thorns that bit into the skin if not handled correctly. Tao had found this rare bean just after he had left Xinca for the first time. It was rare in his home land and even rarer in the rest of the territories. His people called it the Castor bean. Every Eiron knew the bean was very poisonous. He honestly couldn't remember why he had picked the bean up. What if Kodo or Podo had ventured into that pouch and found the pleasant smelling bean? He didn't like them much on good days, when they weren't biting his heels or stealing his food but to kill them. Even accidently would be something Tao couldn't live. It was known to kill a grown man within the day.
Katan's voice pulled Tao from his thoughts. He looked up, Katan was staring at him. Tao almost saw worry in those eyes but quickly ignored that thought.
"What do I need to do?"
Katan asked forcefully.
"Um take the red flower and peel away the stem..."
He looked back to the bean.
"Then, lay them over the open cuts and…"
'He is an assassin! He was sent to trick us and capture Dar for some shiny stones. But… do I want him dead?'
He reminded himself, looking at Katan.
"See that bean there. You need to cut it in half…"
'Half won't kill him.'
"Then take one half and chew it up. It will make a paste that will attach to my skin."
Katan looked at the bean then at Tao puzzled. For a moment Tao thought he wasn't going to do it.
'Maybe he knows about the bean. He will be very angry that I tried to kill- no hurt him- with something so dangerous.'
But the look fades and Katan pops half the bean into his mouth.
"Chew it up. Good now take that brown leaf and spit all of it onto there. Do not swallow any of it… um it's barely enough for my wrist."
Tao lied as he watched Katan remove the tiny pieces of bean from his mouth. Only a small amount would remain in Katan's body. Tao knew it wasn't enough to kill him, only cause him a couple of night of intense stomach pain. At least, that was what Tao was hoping would be the only pain Katan would experience. After Katan finished with the leaf he moved to apply it to Tao wrist lying on his leg. Katan starred long at the wrist, his head swaying back and forth as he tried to concentrate on Tao's wrist. Tao pulled his wrist away. With his other hand, he waved it in front of Katan's face. The other man could barely follow the motion.
'It worked faster than I thought.'
He pulled a jug of water closer to the dazed assassin.
"Wash your mouth before you pass out. You will be fine. "
Tao stood. He eyes searching for any terrons but no one could be seen in the forest. He looked down at the man, before dashing into the forest. All he hoped was that he was running towards someone that could help him. He held his wrist close to his chest as he pushed his legs to run. After a few moments the forest around him erupted with the sound of horse's hooves.
'Zad, no no.'
Tao forced his legs to run faster. He begged the Gods to grant him to ability to run without slipping. Trees and bushes passed almost in a blur as he ran but the sounds of the horses continued to draw closer. Ahead he could see an opening to a large field. He looked around wildly. An open grass meant capture to him; it would allow the horses to run in full stride as opposed to the short and cautious gallop they were at now in the dense forest. To his right the forest was thinner and covered with smaller trees while the left held thicker trees and rocks. He turned quickly on his heels to the left. His foot slide along the loose ground. Quickly he regained his footing and sprinted towards the thicker forest. Tao risked a look back; he could see no one following him. But turning back around he found himself in the open field he had desperately tried to avoid.
'No! no no no'
He cursed silently in his head. Across the field, at almost a hundred strides was the entrance to another dense forest. Tao continued as fast as he could towards that area. On the rim of his vision Tao could see the horses entering the open field. Within seconds the horses were galloping behind Tao. Two broke off, circling around to block Tao's path. Tao slowly came to a stop, standing inside the circle of the terrons only ten strides from the forest. He glared at each rider. Through their laughter, Tao could hear the rider directly behind him dismount from his horse.
The young Eiron's stomach dropped.
"That was not very kind."
He turned seeing the healthy and unaffected assassin stepping closer.
Tao asked. The bean should have had some affect on him. Maybe not enough to make Katan pass out but the bean should have done some damage.
"I am actually very fond of this plant. Did you know that if you eat a tiny yellow pod from the right tree in the downs, it can reverse the effects of this bean? I always carry those yellow pods, Tao."
He stepped closer. Between his fingers, Katan displayed the brightly colored yellow pod. The assassin stopped very close to Tao, his full height loomed over the smaller man. Tao shifted on one of his feet back, trying to slowly step away. But before he could complete the step Katan's hand launched forward gripping the injured wrist and yanked Tao closer. Tao howl in pain. Katan ignored him, tightening his grip as he leaned into Tao's ear.
"Do not ever do this again. Or…"
His grip twisted, snapping one of the bones.
"This will be the kindest punishment you will receive. Is that understood?"
Tao bent his knees to ease the pain on his wrist. Katan pushed Tao completely to the ground. Another pair of horses arrived. Tao focused on his wrist ignoring Katan and the new riders.
Zad asked announcing his presence.
Katan growled. With a few steps, he gripped Tao's arm pulling the smaller man from the dirt.
Zad crossed his arms. A smug look upon his face.
"The mighty assassin can't keep a hold of his prisoner. He's only a boy."
Katan glared at him. He pushed Tao towards the horses.
"Or maybe you can't handle him. Take the shiny stones and I'll take care of the boy."
Katan closed the few feet between Zad. Their noses nearly touching. Both to bull headed to back down, they stared each other down.
"I will get you the savage but the boy remains with me."
"Fine, but I am losing patience. You better get me the Beastmaster before it runs out."
Katan nodded curtly, grabbed Tao and turned to return to their camp.
A/N: The Castor Bean is a real bean that is known to be a very deadly plant. It's pretty cool plant but it is not a fun thing to play with. :}