It was still dark when Turok, Turos, and four attendants departed from Torheem to go on their hunting expedition. They were very lightly armored and carried bows in addition to their swords and spears. They did not bring any shields and did not expect anyone else to be in the area. In fact, a rumor had been circulating that a pride of springing jekets had taken refuge on the large island and now even the people who lived in the area were avoiding the place. The two brothers had never seen a springing jeket, but they had heard tales of the creatures and how they would attack a person by jumping from far away. Turok urged caution, but Turos said he could take care of anything that attacked him. However, they had the whole day to make their plans since they had to sail across the channel, a distance of almost twenty nura. They reached the island that evening and the four attendants set up a small camp on the coast while Turok and Turos scouted the surrounding area and caught some small game for supper.
The following morning, the two brothers departed, leaving the four attendants to guard the camp. They headed northeast toward the more varied terrain. There were a number of small hills, but most of the land was flat and grassy with a gentle upward slope. They saw a herd of antelopes, but the animals stayed far enough ahead and were never within range of their arrows. They did catch a few wingless fowl, and ate them that evening before lying down to get some sleep.
Turok awoke the next morning to the sound of his brother calling his name. He glanced over in that direction and saw Turos lugging a fattened barigol behind him. The tight hide was dark brown with black spots on the shoulders and sides. The snout was narrow in comparison to the rest of the body, and had long floppy ears. The legs were short, and the tail thick. “I see you found breakfast,” Turok said.
“It was on the other side of that hill,” Turos said, pointing behind him. “I also saw a number of zaafs grazing around some trees. There’s plenty of game here, unless you want to move further up the island.”
“I’d like to go all the way to the point,” Turok said as he began to help Turos cut open the barigol. “It might be fun to at least chase the zaafs for awhile, though.”
Turos laughed. “I cannot imagine what one of them would look like running, especially with those extremely short rear legs and the long tall necks.”
“If nothing else, we can at least get some on our way back,” Turok decided. “Their hides are very nice, but I really do not want to carry that much all the way to the point of the island and back.”
Turos put a piece of meat at the end of a stick and began to roast it over the small fire. “If we move fast today, we should be able to reach the sea a few hours after nightfall.”
Turok nodded. “Yes, pack some extra meat for the journey so we don’t have to take the time to find some when we get there.”
They finished cooking their meat and ate in silence before they packed up their gear and continued on their way at a swift pace. It was already dark by the time they reached their destination, the point of island facing out to sea. It was a grassy plateau that ended in an abrupt cliff at the sea. Several rocky mounds and trees were in the area, but other than that, the area was flat and grassy. Without taking the time to scout the area or start a fire, they set down their gear and went to sleep for the night.
Something awakened Turos early the next morning. The sun had not yet risen, but the sky was beginning to lighten in the east, just enough for him to see further into the distance, and he found it strange that there seemed to be a light shining from somewhere behind one of the tree-covered rocky mounds to the west. He picked up his spear and went to investigate the odd light.
As Turos neared the mound, the light behind the mound slightly brightened, causing every leaf in the grove to look like a silhouette. “Do not be frightened, Turos,” a quiet feminine voice reassured him. “You are still safe here.”
“Who are you?” he asked, holding his spear ready. “State your purpose.”
“Pass between the trees and let me see you,” the voice commanded. “I will not go where my light will wake your brother.”
Turos gasped as he realized that it was one of the Lunari that was speaking to him and hastened over the tree-covered mound. “Forgive me,” he said. “I did not expect to come across one of your kind so far away from Atalan.” As he stepped into the awesome presence of the being of light, he placed his spear on the ground, dropped to his knees, and bowed.
A warm hand reached down as the being stooped and took Turos by the hand. “Do not fear me, Turos. You can stand in my presence.”
Turos raised his face and looked up at the Lunari. “What do you want from me?” he asked. “Why would you choose to visit me over my brother?”
The Lunari helped Turos back up on his feet. “Name him Turos, I said at your birth. Name him Turos, for Turos the Tiny will one day outgrow the shadow of his brother, and Turos the Tiny will one day be called Turos the Mighty! I am Zhethou and I have come to bring you a warning.”
“I will trust any word spoken by the Lunari,” Turos said, “but why me and not also Turok?”
Zhethou looked up and off into the distance. “The shadow of Turok will wither this day, and the future of Turos will forever change. A danger has come that you cannot outrun. I counsel you now; keep your back to the sun. Upon Turok’s death, brave Turos must flee; who, heeding these words, a Great King will be.”
“You’re going to kill my brother!?” Turos stammered, completely shocked.
The Lunari abruptly looked back down at him, and although he could not make out any features on the face of light, Turos felt that Zhethou was glaring at him. “The Lunari are not going to kill Turok,” she said, sounding slightly annoyed.
Turos lowered his head. “I did not mean to make accusations,” he apologized.
“The future of Turos the Mighty is not in this land, but that is not something you can control,” the Lunari said. “The sun is now beginning to rise and my presence will no longer keep you safe. Return to your brother, but at no point look toward the sun.”
Turos bowed once more and picked up his spear. Somewhere in the distance behind the Lunari, Turos thought he heard a low growl. “I will remember your words,” he said, slowly making his way backwards through the trees and over the rocky mound. As soon as he was out of the trees, the light of the Lunari disappeared and Turos was left with only the light of the rising sun as he walked backwards toward his brother. Partway back, he noticed the shapes of several strange looking large cats skulk over the mound. Their fur was a green-brown with grey ovoid markings on their backs. The hind legs were the strangest part. They stuck up higher than the creature’s back, and seemed to have more than one knee per leg. Turos crouched down and held his spear, ready to defend himself as he slowly backed away.
Turok woke up and noticed his brother slowly walking toward him, backwards. “Turos,” he yelled. “What are you doing?”
Turos did not answer until he was beside Turok. “I spoke with a Lunari on the far side of those trees,” Turos said, pointing at the mound.
“What did they say?” Turok asked.
“I was told of a grim future,” Turos answered. “She said, ‘a danger has come that you cannot outrun. I counsel you now; keep your back to the sun.’”
Turok grinned. “I envy you. I’ve only been able to see Lunari from a distance when they’ve visited the Great King in Atalan, and never has one ever spoken to me.”
Turos shook his head. “I would rather I had have never seen a Lunari than to have listened to the things I was just told. Now I suggest you pick up your spear before you are caught off guard.”
Turok grabbed his spear and stood up. “Do not worry, Turos, I can take care of you. Besides...” He looked out toward the tree-covered mound. “What exactly are you looking at?”
“There is something over there,” Turos answered. “I don’t know what they are, but we should not stay on this part of the island.”
“Whatever they are, we can take them,” Turok replied, confidently. He began to walk toward the mound.
“Turok, come back,” Turos urged, but his brother would not listen.
Partway to the mound, Turok turned and faced Turos. “Don’t just stand there, Turos, come on.”
“Don’t look toward the sun!” Turos urgently warned. “Whatever you do, don’t look toward th...”
A large beast suddenly jumped high into the sky from somewhere among the trees, its front legs and claws extended for the kill, its rear jumping legs trailing behind it as it sailed through the air. “Turok, watch out!” Turos screamed.
Turok spun back around, but not in time to avoid the large cat. He fell screaming beneath its crushing weight with the claws and teeth ripping into his flesh.
Turos threw his spear at the vicious monster. His aim was true and the flight of the spear was straight. The beast was killed and fell beside the wounded Turok.
Several more of the creatures easily hopped out of the grove and wandered toward the wounded man. Turos reached down and picked up his sword. “TUROS THE MIGHTY!” he roared, and rushed toward the beasts. His sword flashed in the early morning sun. Blood from the large cats flowed along the ground as they fell beneath his sword, and the fury of Turos’s vengeance was victorious. He dropped beside his badly wounded brother and knew the wounds were fatal.
“Turos the Mighty,” Turok said with a weak grin. “I like that; it fits you well.” He reached up and pulled Turos closer. “You must run. There was no one to witness what happened here, so if I die, you will be accused of ambition and executed.” A tear flowed from the corner of his eye. “I am sorry that I did not listen to your warning. Now my arrogance has ruined your life as well.”
Turos shook his head. “No, brother, my life may change, but it is not ruined. The Lunari also spoke of this and said, ‘upon Turok’s death, brave Turos must flee; who, heeding these words, a Great King will be.’”
Turok smiled. “Great King Turos the Mighty, I am confident that one day you will be worthy of the throne.” He choked on some blood, and Turos reached down and raised Turok’s torso off the ground. “Turos, I have enjoyed our competitions. If you were not around, I would never have struggled so hard to excel and stay ahead of you.”
“Then beat me now and outlive me,” Turos urged. “I would carry you all the way back to Atalan on my shoulders if you would only stay with me.”
Turok shook his head. “No, Turos, you must flee and live up to your destiny.” He closed his eyes. “Farewell, Turos the Mighty,” he whispered.
Moments later, Turos was alone in the wilderness with the lifeless body of his brother. He mourned most of the day, and after the wounds had dried, he stripped off Turok’s armor. Turos thrust the point of his brother’s sword into the ground beside the tree-covered mound, and set the armor before it as a small lonely memorial to Turok’s passing. As the sun was setting, Turos fashioned two long poles from the trees as well as several shorter rods. Using the hides from the dead cats, he lashed them together into a stretcher and placed his brother on it.
The next morning, Turos set off, dragging his brother’s body back toward the camp where they had left the attendants four days before. It was a long slow march across the empty land and it was toward the end of the third day before he neared the camp.
Two of the attendants noticed the one brother dragging the stretcher with the other and ran out to offer assistance. “Prince Turos,” one of the attendants called, as soon as he could recognize which brother it was. “What has happened to Prince Turok?”
Turos shook his head and frowned, but did not say anything. He continued to walk toward the camp, but stopped and set down the stretcher when the attendants came near.
The attendants knelt beside the body and realized the seriousness of the situation. “Prince Turok is dead! You’ve...” The attendant put his hand to his sword. “Seize him!” he shouted to the other attendants. Prince Turos did not wait to find out what would happen. He turned and fled, sprinting back the way he had come.
Three of the attendants began to chase after Turos, but the fourth picked up his bow and took aim. Turos was almost out of range, but the attendant was well skilled in archery and the arrow struck Turos in the left shoulder, the barb lodging in the bone. The force of the arrow and the excruciating pain slowed him down, but he did not let the wound stop him. He continued to flee from his pursuers and managed to stay ahead of them.
The rest of the day, the attendants continued their pursuit, but they could not continue the pursuit in the dark or they might accidentally wander off his trail. Turos, however, did continue awhile longer after dark until he was certain that he was far enough ahead to safely get some rest. He sat down, and with difficulty, reached behind him and took hold of the arrow. He howled in pain as he snapped off the shaft a few inches away from the wound, and knew he would need someone else to remove the rest and clean up the wound. He sprawled onto his stomach and slept for a few hours before waking up and continuing his escape.
Turos reached the cliff at the end of the island early on the third day. Behind him, the attendants were beginning to catch up. He could hear them calling his name in the distance and knew it was only a matter of time before they found him. Turos began to ponder his options. He could turn himself in and face trial and possibly execution, or he could jump off the cliff and into the sea, saving himself from the humiliation and blame for something that he did not do. The water below churned against the cliff and Turos knew there was no guarantee that he would survive the waves if he survived the jump, and if he survived both, there was no way that he could swim in his weakened state.
“Turos!” The voice of one of the attendants startled Turos. He spun around to find the four attendants spread out, each holding a bow with an arrow pointing at him. “Turos,” the attendant said, “come with us. You must stand before the Great King and answer for what has been done.”
“I did not kill Turok,” Turos said.
“The Great King will decide your innocence,” the attendant replied. “If you will not go peacefully, then I am bound by duty to avenge this great crime against Prince Turok.”
“You will find the place of Turok’s death over there,” Turos said, pointing toward the tree-covered mound to the west where he had left the sword and the armor. “There are no other witnesses and evidence can be fabricated. I have no choice, but must flee or face execution for a crime I did not commit.” He reached for his sword. “Do not come closer, for I will not hesitate to defend myself.”
The lead attendant lowered his bow, but the others continued to point their arrows at Turos. “Do not be a fool, Prince Turos,” he said. “The truth of this matter will be discovered and your involvement found out.”
Turos shook his head and pointed his sword at the attendant. “I warned you, do not come any closer,” he growled. He took a step toward the attendant.
“Stop him,” the attendant ordered. The others released their arrows and one of them struck Turos in the right thigh, just above the knee. Turos stumbled backward as he tried to regain his balance, and fell over the edge of the cliff.
The attendant rushed forward and peered over the edge. For a moment, he could see no sign of Turos, but then his body emerged from beneath the water, floating on a strange light. The light then began to move away from the cliff, swiftly carrying the motionless body far to sea, and only a moment later it was out of sight.
Fear gripped the face of the attendant as he realized that the bright light had to be one of the Lunari. “If only I had known a higher power was involved in these events,” he lamented, “an innocent man would not have been lost.” He turned to the other attendants. “The joys of Atalan will turn to sorrow, and laughter to mourning. There will be no rest for us until Prince Turos has been found.”
News of scandal spread throughout the world. A prince was dead and his brother had fled with an arrow in his shoulder and another in his thigh. The suggestion of Lunari involvement, though sounding ludicrous to many who heard of the incident, intensified the gossip. Speculation and rumors abounded. Who really killed Turok, and how did he die? Was there a conspiracy among the Lunari, and was Turos involved? One thing was certain, that only one man had the answers, and he had taken them with him over the edge of a cliff.
The campaign led by Prince Hifur against Nazada was cut short. The soldiers returned to their homes and Prince Hifur buried his son, Prince Turok and returned to his wife in Atalan. Sadness filled the halls of the Great King, and the splendor of Atalan seemed to dim.
However, even as despair filled the hearts of all who heard the tragic news, so too did hope find a small foothold in some dark corner of their thoughts at the news that Turos’s body was never found. “Listen, friend,” they said, “keep in mind, Prince Turos may yet be alive. Stay alert, keep a watch, and pray Prince Turos we may find.”