The thundering paused every few minutes; the air rose heavy in anticipation

of the next assault upon the soil. The rhythm was familiar to the groups of

Unarra tending to the various tasks of the day. Some even used the noise to

jolt them back awake after falling asleep from a night spent playing too many

games of hyra. Atlak hated how the dust was stirred into the air, how his

feet vibrated afterward and caused him to pause in his work to recover. Tynel

Mellor and Tynel Atlak were lashing groups of vines together for the

trainers' use. Mellor marveled at his spawn's ability to work

single-mindedly, and had praised Atlak on many occasions at the amount he

could accomplish in one day, even in comparison to such experienced workers

as Mellor himself.

Mellor had hoped the long day would slow the relentless questions from his

curious spawn, but such was not the case. Atlak paused only long enough to

voice his frustration with the rippling ground swells experienced while

taming the Pikatan. Atlak turned his attention back to Mellor and continued

probing, "...but if Tallic had such obvious talent and empathy with the

beasts why did the Tresed relinquish him to apprentice status for so long? Is

that why he left? Some say you were friends. What was..."

"We are still friends." Mellor was thankful for the growing tremors of the

Pikatan. "That is enough about Tallic for today my progeny; the taming

exercises have begun."

Upset that his questioning had ceased, Atlak tried not to cough as the dust

kicked up around him. "Of all the creatures, what is so sacred about the

Pikatan anyway?" Atlak's scowl grew deeper and darker with every leap and

hard landing of the Pikatan.

Mellor was amused. "Keep that up, Atlak, and your face will become etched

like that."

"Just once, I would like to stomp through their valley and disrupt them while

they are trying to get work done."

"I suppose you would also want to be revered as the Sacred Atlak too then?"

Mellor smiled. "Perhaps you would teach the Unarra about the patience of

taming as well?"

The reprimand was enough to keep young Atlak from continuing to outwardly

show his distaste for the Sacred Pikatan. Atlak just grumbled to himself as

clouds of dust mushroomed into the air not far from where they worked.

However, the thunderous quakes caused by the Pikatan didn't stop this time. A

telepathic warning was sent to all nearby, but Atlak was distracted by the

sudden and chaotic rearing of the Pikatan. Something was wrong.

Most of the Pikatan were rounded up before any large amounts of damage were

done. Yet, one crazed animal, its eyes rolling in its skull, careened forward

with its strange loping leaps, dodging all attempts at capture. Atlak's

insides churned, a mix of ice and painful heat as he looked up to see a

silhouette of a figure on a near-distant hill. Atlak began to scream even

before Mellor was trampled...



Atlak awoke with a gasp. The bright day had suddenly gone black, and

he could see nothing. A wave of panic swelled through him, he had gone blind!

Just as he was about to cry out, words of comfort came to him

telepathically. Mellor must be near; Atlak could almost feel his presence

carried in the words. He commanded himself to relax, and the tension slowly

slipped away. When he felt his chest loosen, Atlak took a deep breath and


Once more, harder. Slowly, the world came into focus. The familiar

surroundings of their humble hut eventually became clear as his eyes

adjusted. He could barely hold back a gleeful laugh; it was night! Many hours

remained before Atloos would chase away the moons and fill the sky with


So it had been nothing more than a dream. The Kompa herd was still far

away, and the Pikatan was yet to be disturbed. Still, it had been an awful

premonition. Atlak turned to tell Mellor of the strange dream, to seek

guidance from his wizened sire. But pain shot through his left leg and spread

like wildfire through him. A hand reached out and steadied him, guided him

back down to the comfort of his cot. Atlak, once again confused, slowly

turned his head to ask his patriarch what was wrong with his leg. But Mellor

was nowhere to be seen, and the frowning face of the village elder chilled

Atlak's blood.

Once more, telepathic words came to him, tried to comfort him. It was

different this time, though. Atlak knew they did not come from Mellor, knew

he would never hear Mellor again.

Once more, Atlak passed into darkness. The shock of waking up to find

that a terrible nightmare had become reality was too much for the young

Unarran to handle.

Seated near him, the Village elder sighed. The Pikatan, crazed like no

other he had ever witnessed, had brought much harm on this young spawn.

Looking down at the wounded leg, freshly wrapped, he wondered if it would

have been better if the Pikatan's aim had been truer.


The next few days passed rapidly. Atlak's leg was still sore, the healers

told him it would probably never feel right again. But much needed to be

done, and Atlak had little choice but to leave the comfort of his hut and

re-enter society.

As he watched Mellor's cocoon be hoisted up onto its place in the middle

of the villages death-tree, he could not help but feel cheated. He still had

so many questions, so many things he wanted to say to Mellor. He was not yet

ready to take his place in the world; he needed the guidance Mellor provided.

But he was gone now, and Atlak knew there was no one who could replace

him. No, he was very much alone now.

Atlak cursed the Pikatan, now resting comfortably in a pen built for him

by order of the elder. The stupid, dangerous beast had taken everything from

him, and then cruelly left him to fend for himself. He could not even walk

near the huge animal, for fear he would do something crazy to avenge himself.

Privately, Atlak was not sure he could ever face another Pikatan, or any

other beast for that matter. Even being near gentler, tamer creatures caused

his stomach to turn. He had lost his love for the animals of Atriana, and

that was dangerous.

Unarra were meant to be with their animals, that was the place given to

them by the maker. The Tresed was based on that very concept. To reject that

place was to reject the Tresed and his species in general. So Atlak was

careful to hide his thoughts, he could not afford to let on that he had lost

his faith in himself, his people, and even the beliefs his people stood for.

But such a dramatic change could not go unnoticed for long, especially in

a tightly knit Tresed village. Atlak's fellow villagers noted the slower

walk, the downcast eyes. They tried to help as best they could, but Atlak

walked alone, no matter how crowded the streets around him were.

As his injuries reached the point where they were as healed as they would

ever be, Atlak new he would be asked to return to work soon. He also knew he

could not do it, knew that being near the horrible beasts would cause him to


No, he couldn't go back. Even if he could, what would he gain? Without a

mentor to guide him, he could never be more than a second tier animal

trainer; one hated his lot in life at that. This place, this life, held

nothing for him anymore. He had to leave, had to find himself and his place

in the world once again.

As he packed his meager possessions into a small traveling bag, Atlak

felt more alone than ever. He began to question his decision to leave.

Atriana was a big place, and he didn't really have anything to offer it.

Atlak shook his head, tried to clear it of the doubts gnawing away at

him. He needed to do this, it was the only way he could stay sane. He had not

told anyone of his decision to leave because of these doubts. He knew that it

would be too easy for a well- meaning friend to talk him out of it. They

would tell him that he would miss his home, miss being around his people.

Perhaps they were right, but Atlak needed to find out for himself.

Atlak left long after the village had begun its slumber. Only a handful

of watchmen remained awake, and most of them were busy playing hyra. Nobody

bothered him as he made his way through the silent village. As he came to the

outskirts of the tiny settlement, he stopped looking around him. He stared

down at his feet, counting on fate to guide his footsteps this night. He had

no direction of his own, so fate would do just fine.

The night began to grow colder, and Atlak pulled his battered cloak

around him. His still down, he was nearly lulled to sleep by the steady

rhythm of his own footsteps.

Out of the darkness came a loud shriek. Startled, Atlak looked around him for

the first time in hours. He saw nothing unusual.

"Probably just a night bird," he thought to himself. He felt sorry for

whatever prey it had just found.

He took a moment to look around him and get his bearings. Peering into the

darkness, he soon recognized where he was. Silhouetted by the moonlight, he

could see Mellor's cocoon hanging from its branch. In a way, Atlak was

disappointed to see it. He had thought he had traveled a great distance this

night, and yet he still found himself well inside the lands of his people.

But the disappointment was quickly forgotten, and he decided that it was

proper for him to say goodbye one last time.

He had gone but a little ways when a loud snort froze him in his

tracks. Instinctively, he dropped to the ground. Night birds do not snort,

and he hurriedly searched for whatever had made that noise. Just as he

feared, a clift ambled into sight.

Atlak knew that some Tyrusians would use the beasts of burden when

they went out seeking glory in the wild lands of Atriana. Young though he

was, Atlak knew better than to show himself to a wandering Tyrusian. They

were notoriously ill tempered, and had a special dislike for the Unarra in

general and the Tresed in particular. So he crouched down motionless, letting

no sound escape him.

As the beast drew near, he could see a cloaked rider perched in the

saddle. The rider seemed small for a Tyrusian, which probably just made him

all the more aggressive. They continued up the pathway, moving closer and

closer to Atlak. Soon, he was sure he would be able to hit the rider with a

casual stone throw. He quietly felt the ground around him for something he

could use for just that purpose, should he be spotted.

Just when his wandering hand wrapped itself around a clod of soil, the

beast stopped. Atlak tensed, ready to bolt, but a voice ringing with

authority held him where he was.

"Stand up, young one. I am not here to do any harm, to you or anyone

else. And trust me when I say could not do me any harm with that bit of dirt

you are holding."

Atlak dropped his impromptu weapon, and notice it easily fell apart.

He remained crouched, unsure of his next course of action. Ill-tempered

though they were, a Tyrusian would not strike an unprepared foe (some strange

quark of their code of honor). But the voice hadn't sounded Tyrusian....

Once more, the voice rang out.

"Come now, show yourself. Or have the Tresed forgotten common


Atlak could not tell what manner of creature the voice was coming

from. It sounded old, and yet carried the hint of humor that so often seemed

reserved for the young. It was because of this humor that Atlak, almost

against his will, stood up. Insulting is the words were, they had been spoken

in a friendly way, as if they came from an old friend who was innocently

poking fun.

The rider threw his hood back as Atlak stood in front of him. Much to

his relief, Atlak saw that he was not Tyrusian. No, the rider was most

definitely Unarran.

As the stranger looked him over with his keen, bright eyes that felt

like they saw right throw you, Atlak saw an expression of surprise creep onto

his face.

"Mellor..." he started to stammer out. His eyes darted ever so briefly

to the death tree. As quickly as it had appeared, the surprise vanished even

quicker. So fast, you forgot it had ever been there. It would be the last

time Atlak would ever see any hint of surprise on that face.

"What is your name, my young friend?"

Atlak found the combination of friendliness and authority carried in

the words irresistible. He had stuttered out an answer before he even

realized he was talking.

"T...T...Tynel Atlak, sir." Atlak couldn't hide all of the raging fear

he felt rising. There was something odd about this Unarra, something almost


The stranger nodded, as if he had received the exact answer he had

expected."I know the Tynel name well, though the other is not familiar to me.

But I would venture to guess that it belongs to the spawn of Mellor."

Atlak shook his head yes, somewhat puzzled. Mellor had never left the

lands surrounding their tiny village. How would such an odd person come to

know his name?

The stranger continued, sounding even friendlier and not quite as

commanding."That is good news to me, though you do not yet understand why.

That will come soon enough, but before we talk I have one last duty I must

carry out for an old friend. Please follow, it will not take long." With

that, the clift started up the path at a slow gallop. Atlak struggled to keep

up, but he was soon left behind.

By the time Atlak caught up, he found the stranger dismounted and

standing near the tree. Atlak kept a respectful distance, and watched the

stranger stand before the remains of Mellor. He could see words forming on

the stranger's lips, but few could be heard over the wind. To Atlak, it

appeared that the Unarran was lost in a conversation with somebody he could

not see.

With a suddenness that startled Atlak, the stranger pivoted on his

heel to face him.

"Come, Tynel Atlak. We have much to discuss, but this is not the

place". He strode past Atlak and was quickly on his steed once more. Offering

a hand that Atlak took for reasons he never quite understood, the stranger

pulled the young Unarran up behind him. Before Atlak had a chance to think

about what he had just done, they were on their way.


Atloos was just creeping over the horizon when they stopped. Riding

behind the stranger, Atlak marveled at how quickly the clift moved even with

a double burden. They had but a lot of distance behind them during the night,

and were now deep in a forested patch of land that Atlak didn't recognize.

The stranger dismounted with Atlak scrambling down after him. His were so

stiff that they felt frozen in place. He stretched mightily, trying to work

them out. He had not slept in nearly a day now, and he could feel the fatigue

starting to take hold of his mind and body.

Looking around, he was surprised at how dense the undergrowth was here.

All around him, branches and smaller plants weaved in and out of each to

other to form one great, tangled mess. It must have been slow going for the

clift, though Atlak had not noticed at the time.

The stranger, meanwhile, quietly unloaded a couple bags from their steed.

He had not spoken a single word their entire journey, and Atlak was becoming

used to the silence. With 3 bags slung over his shoulder (including Atlak own

small bag), the stranger whispered a few words to the clift. With a

happy-sounding snort, the animal slipped off into the forest.

This made Atlak curious. Was their journey already at an end? He saw

nothing of interest here, only trees and other plant life. No signs of

civilization could be spotted, and he wondered why his strange companion had

decided to stop here.

Without a word, the stranger leapt up onto a tall, thick tree. Moving up

it at an astonishing speed, he was soon perched on branch high above Atlak.

"Come on, my friend. Don't tell me you have never climbed a tree before!"

With that, he leaped up to the next higher branch and quickly disappeared

into the foliage.

Atlak had climbed trees before, but this tree had no lower branches for

him to hoist himself up by. He was exhausted, and his cot back in the village

never felt so far away. He had no idea how far they had gone, or even what

path they had taken. So that was that, he had nowhere to go but up/

Once more, he stretched out his aching muscles. He took a deep breath and

leapt onto the trunk.

He was surprised to find convenient handholds on the trunk. They seem

tailored made for a Unarran of his size, and his fingers found them easily.

But even when he clutched one, he could not really see that he was holding

onto anything. He did not take time to ponder this for very long, and he

slowly worked his way up the tree.

The going was slow, but he soon got the hang of it. Still, a long time

had passed before he found the stranger crouched down in a large, cave-like

opening in the trees trunk.

Atlak collapsed next to him with an exhausted sigh. He thought his arms

were going to fall off, and his bad leg was screaming with pain. The stranger

was stopped over an open bag, his hands busy with some project. Without

looking up, he spoke to Atlak.

"I was starting to think you had fallen. You may relax in that corner for

a little while, I will return shortly." Slinging the bag he had been working

with over his shoulder, he strode from the cave.

Nervous, curious, and more than a little scared, Atlak stared out the

opening. He could hear the forest noise all around him, and it was a noise

such as he had never heard. The wind whistled through the trees, birds

chirped, and every so often he would hear the tromping of some unknown

animal. Finally, fatigue got the better of him, and he drifted off into a

comfortable sleep.

He awoke with a jolt, daylight streaming through the opening. Just

outside, the stranger stood gazing out at the world. He must have heard Atlak

stirring, as he turned and came back inside. As he crossed through the

opening, he touched a strange looking plant that was growing there. It

shuddered for a moment and then branches quickly spread across the opening,

completely covering it in just a few seconds.

Atlak started t shout, fearing he would be sealed inside the strange

tree-cave, but the stranger silenced him with an outstretched hand.

"Don't worry," he said, "they keep the wind out and discourage visitors.

They will move aside when I ask them to." From an unseen place, he pulled out

a wooden cup and handed it to Atlak. "Here, drink this."

Atlak took the cup and looked inside. A dark liquid filled it, with a

smell that was less than appealing. But he had had little to drink during the

course of the night, and was thirsty. He hesitantly took a sip, and was

surprised with a sweet, pleasing taste. He drank deeply from the cup, and was

even more surprised to feel his muscles let the fatigue of the night before

slip away. Within minutes, he felt completely refreshed. Even his bad leg

felt much better.

"I left to the gather the ingredients for that when you came in, but you

were already asleep by the time I returned. If I had known your need was so

pressing, I would have hurried." The stranger took a sip from his own cup.

"It is a powerful drink, it heals the body and pushes fatigue from your mind".

Atlak nodded, and finished his cup. Then he stood up, testing his weight

on his bad leg. It was improved, but he could feel the wounds were still

there. The stranger watched him, and noticeably frowned.

"I fear your leg will never be normal again. If I had arrived sooner,

perhaps I could have changed that. But I was too late to save you from the

Tresed and their crude methods."

Atlak ignored the insult towards the healers of his people. His leg felt

so much better that he believed the stranger might very well be right.

The stranger, meanwhile, moved a lantern into the middle of the room.

Made from two plants, the lanterns bright glow came from the gases they gave

off when watered. Harmless by themselves, these gases became very combustible

when they were mixed, and a small flame held to them produced a steady glow

as the gasses were burned off. The level of light was easily controlled by

the amount of water given to the plant.

The stranger turned it up, and the small room was bathed in light. For

the first time Atlak took a moment to examine his surroundings.

The room was not very large, scarcely 10 feet from wall to wall. Shaped

like a crude circle, the walls sloped down towards the floor. This had the

effect of making one feel as if he was trapped inside a wooden egg, but Atlak

didn't dwell on that. Openings of various sizes were carved out of the walls

to provide storage space, and various makes of containers filled them. The

room, overall, had a homey feeling despite its strange location. It even came

complete with crude benches that seemed to be growing from the floor itself.

The stranger was now seated on one of these, and he motioned for Atlak to

take a seat facing him. "Come and sit, we have much to speak of and will not

find a more comfortable spot for many leagues yet."

Atlak took the offered bench, and found it to be surprisingly

comfortable. It looked to be made of solid word, but Atlak could feel it give

a little as his weight pressed down on it. The stranger did not wait long

before he began speaking.

"So, my young friend, what brought you so far from your village last


Atlak looked down at the floor, and muttered, "I was leaving."

The stranger nodded. "I guessed as much. I see many questions in your

eyes, and I suspect that death of Mellor causes you to doubt whether they

will ever be answered."Atlak could only nod.

"AndI would venture another guess, that you do not feel your home

holds the answers either."

Atlak sighed, "I don't think I can spend my life there, amongst the animals

that killed Mellor. That is all I could ever do there, so I left."

The stranger looked at him for a long moment, and once again Atlak

felt as if he was being looked through. As the stranger stared, Atlak felt a

flood of questions come to him through his gaze and Atlak, without ever

speaking a single world, felt himself answer each one as quickly as it was

asked through no will of his own. Finally, after what seemed like an

eternity, the stranger spoke once more.

"Your story, though it holds some unique aspects, is familiar to me. I

have heard it before, twice actually. Because of that, I can tell you that

your disdain for the animals so important to your people is not rooted in

Mellor's death. They have simply become as symbol for the way of life that

you were starting to question long before Mellor was killed. Even if he had

lived, you would have found some excuse to leave, to explore the world

outside your tiny village. That is what you have always wanted, and sooner or

later you would have done it."

Atlak thought that over. He was not sure what he would have done if

Mellor had lived; he had never really given much thought to his future in the

village. And yet he knew the stranger was right about his natural curiosity,

his thirst for knowledge of the world outside the Tresed. Perhaps the strange

Unarran, who seemed so very wise, was right that his mind, desperately

searching for a reason to leave the village, found a convenient excuse in

Mellor's tragic death. He had felt completely comfortable on the clift last

night, after all.

"How do you know so much about me?" Atlak asked with a hint of awe in

his voice.

The stranger let loose a laugh, which sounded thoroughly alien coming

from him.

"I said I had heard the story twice before, and each time it involved

people I though I knew very well. I have spent much time pondering them and

the very different paths they took."

Atlak, desperately hoping that this stranger could help him unravel

the confusion that had filled his head since Mellor's death, was more curious

than ever.

"Would you tell me about them?" he cautiously asked.

The stranger frowned, and stared down at his hands. After a few

seconds, he looked up again and sighed.

"You are defiantly of the Tynel line, you have the same eagerness to ask

questions your predecessor possessed. I wonder if you will yet choose the

same path he did. But I will tell you of the two young Unarrans I knew many

salvod ago."

The stranger paused, and then began his narrative.

"Long ago, I had come to know two very unique Unarrans, or so I

thought at the time. Neither was much older than yourself, and both showed a

strange talent for handling the beasts of the Tresed. The older villagers

would often marvel at the work they could accomplish in just one day.

"Despite their talent, and perhaps because of it, they soon grew weary

of seeing the same things every day. They became curious, and started asking

many questions. At first, their questions were answered and nobody thought

anything of it. Soon, their curiosity became well known, and people

eventually grew annoyed with answering questions during time that would be

better spent taming and caring for the animals. And so the youths, who were

the best friends, began to explore the lands around them.

"As they grew older, an uneasiness grew inside of them. No rock had

lain unturned by their curious hands, no tree left unclimbed. But they had

never gone far from their village, and they both cast eager eyes towards the

paths that led away from their homes.

"But the Tresed do not allow youth to remain young for very long, as

you well know. Their duties became more and more demanding, and both soon

reached Apprentice status. Both displayed a great talent for taming the

beasts, such as the village elders had never seen before. Both were eagerly

watched, and the elders could not wait for the youngsters to mature enough to

be given Master status. Then, their village would grow in fame amongst the


"One of the youth, however, never outgrew his thirst for knowledge. He

did his duties to the village, but he never lingered to improve his skills.

He always wanted to see what was over the next hill, and he relied on his

natural talents to get him through his work faster. The village elders

noticed this, and held him in his apprentice role long after his friend had

been promoted. But, amazingly, his talents with the beasts grew without the

practice usually necessary. Soon, his ability became legendary amongst the

Tresed and much discussion took place amongst the elders of all the villages.

"Some said he should be given master's status immediately, but others felt

this would cheapen the position for those who achieved the rang through hard

work and dedication (and so grew in maturity). Finally, they decided to wait

for him to mature more.

"To the youth, these discussions meant little. He was aware of his abilities,

and they served him well during his journeys farther and farther from the

village. But he had grown to restless to stay with the Tresed and their

ancient ways. The world was changing, and he wanted to see it, to be a part

of that change.

"And so, much like yourself, he decided to leave. But before he left, he

needed to speak with his old friend."

The stranger paused, and once more sighed deeply. His eyes held a faraway

look, and it appeared as if he had forgotten all about Atlak.

"The meeting did not go well. They had, up to this point, shared a common

path despite the difference in their social ranks. But that night it became

clear that though they still shared a natural curiosity, they had grown apart

over the years. Their exchange grew heated, and at last, they parted ways.

They would never see one another again.

"The one who chose to stay never achieved much more. He led a happy life, in

his humble hut and even spawned. But he buried his curiosity deep, afraid to

dredge up the memories of his childhood.

"The other, unfortunately, became something of a legend amongst the Tresed.

He went on to travel all over the world, and he learned very much. After a

long while, he decided to return to his home and see his old friend. As he

drew nearer and nearer the town, he began to hear his name in conversations.

This puzzled him; he thought he would have been long forgotten by now. People

spoke of his amazing abilities, and after a while he heard a passing Unarran

say 'If only Tallic had been there, perhaps Mellor could have been saved'.

And so he quickly called found a clift, the progeny of one he had tamed many

salvod ago and rode through the night until he reached his destination, and

there he found a chance to gain the forgiveness he had been so eager to find

when he returned home."

When the older Unarran finished, Atlak could only blink. Before him sat the

legendary Tallic, the subject of so many of his questions. He had always

imagined he would be tall and proud, but he seemed so old and tired as he sat

there in front of Atlak.

They stayed like that for several minutes, Tallic looking down thoughtfully

while Atlak was too filled with awe to say a word. The lantern's glow had

begun to fade and the shadows lengthen by the time Tallic stood up again.

Atlak watched him, and before his eyes Tallic seemed to grow younger again,

the years melting away as he collected his willpower up again. Finally, the

older Unarran broke the silence.

"Come with me Atlak, and I will show you Atriana. There are cities the like

of which you have never seen, bazaars where anything can be bought, and wind

tunnels that can carry you to lands you have never dreamed of. It is what you

have always wanted, and I can give it to you. I owe that to my old friend, if

nothing more. I will leave soon, if you wish to travel with me. If not, you

can find your way home by following Gentar." Just as he finished, he slung

all the bags but Atlak's over his shoulder and touched the plant guarding the

door. The vines slithered back, and Tallic scooped the small plant up and

placed I gingerly inside of his bag.

Before he knew it, Atlak was alone with his thoughts. Once more, he began to

doubt whether or not leaving was the right thing to do. If Tallic's story was

to be believed, Mellor had had the very same curiosity that his spawn

wrestled with. And yet he had managed to fight it down and become a respected

master of beasts. Perhaps he could do the same. Atlak looked out of the

opening, and out onto Atriana. In the distance, he could see Gentar creeping

over a hill.

Atlak knew that his village was nestled somewhere near that hill, he had

often seen it during the course of a days work. He had never known what lay

beyond it, and he was suddenly filled with a need to find out. His decision

had been made, then. He picked up his bag, and slowly climbed down the great


By the time he reached the ground, Tallic was nowhere to be seen. Had he left

already, thinking Atlak had decided to stay?

A snort from the bushes settled that question, and Atlak turned to see Tallic

leading his clift through the tangled underbrush. Atlak could make out the

barest hint of a smile on the Unarran's face as he brought the beast to where

Atlak stood.

"He is a good clift, from good stock. He has agreed to stay with us for a

while, as he wishes to see the pastures that lie beyond the lands of the

Tresed. Much like you, my young friend."

They packed their bags onto the clift and climbed on. They tarried a minute,

all three looking towards Gentar and the sleepy village that lay beneath him.

Then, with a sight that was more felt than heard they turned away. As they

reentered the forest, Tallic spoke to Atlak, offering the greatest bit of

wisdom Atlak would ever learn on their many journeys that were to come.

"Atriana has much to offer the weary traveler, but nothing quite so grand as

the memories and thoughts of home. Do not make my mistake, you must return

from time to time to remind yourself what it is like to be home."

Atlak looked over his shoulder one last time, and knew that he would return

to the lands of his people. His destiny yet lied with them, though he could

only feel the slightest hint of it carried on the wind.