“I must say, I did enjoy mauling the humans a little,” Barcus answered darkly, stretching to his full height on hind legs. “Well, at least now we know where some of the Amorak wolf pack has gone.” He hung his head. “Gideon, this is terrible. I killed a couple of them, you know. I had to. They were attacking me and I don’t understand why. I’ve always gotten on well with the wolves and they’ve never been overly fond of man. Why would they join the humans now?”
“I don’t know,” Gideon answered grimly. “But that wasn’t the entire pack. I didn’t see their alpha, Baro or his mate, Blanca.”
“They weren’t there,” murmured Barcus, looking back through the bushes at the still forms of the wolves and men that lay scattered on the ground. “Which means that they’re still out there.” He turned back to Gideon. “Speaking of missing, I’ve never known your bat to shy from a fight. Where is Arkas?”
“He is with your Alsvid friend, Mandamus. It seems that Fate has been kind. Mandamus has met a human, Luco, is his name. They are now bonded and at Luco’s home in Roseneath.”
“May the belly of Artio stay full!” Barcus roared happily. “What wonderful news.” He slammed his forepaws on the ground in excitement, nearly hitting Inc who scrambled out of the way. “His mother will be happy to know that he is alive and well,” the bear crowed.
“Barcus,” Gideon said warningly. “You and Inc must not tell anyone that Mandamus has met a human. Not even his mother.”
“And he who rides a white-eyed steed…” the bear muttered gleefully, not listening. “How does the rest of the legend go?”

“Quiet,” whispered Gideon, glancing around. “Not here and not now.
“Alright,” agreed the bear. “I do feel for Mareva, though. She has been so worried, are you sure I can’t say anything? Have you actually seen this human with Mandamus, or is it just the word of the forest?”
“Yes, I’ve seen them,” Gideon answered. “They found a baby dragon, Mytreya’s son. They took him with them and ended up at the River of Lethe with Samhain.”
“Mytreya’s son?” said Inc. “Why? What happened to her?”
“The Rakhana killed and skinned her. I went and had a look after I found out. They took her heart for Asura’s blasted wizard, Dazra, I expect. A dragon’s heart doesn’t decay—it turns to diamond over time but the things that can be done with it before that happens,” Gideon shuddered. “After they stole her skin and took her heart, they left her to rot, yards away from her own dragonling.”

Barcus gave a dangerous sounding snort and slashed a line in the dirt with his paw. “They will pay for that,” he growled, pacing in a circle. Inc’s eyes flashed with fury.
“Now, now, old friends,” said Gideon, patting the bear on the shoulder and scratching the cougar under his chin. “The time to rage over her death is long past and there will come a day where we have our revenge but for now, her son is safe with Samhain and she’ll take good care of him until we can find him a den far away from man.”

Barcus is a grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) who lumbers peacefully through the forests of the Silver Kingdom. He is one of three members of the Forest Council that tries Mandamus for his supposed crimes against the Night Mares. He does is best to protect those around him but don’t get on his bad side!

Photo Credit: Cliff Forest

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