Beastmaster

In the kingdom of Aruk, the high priest Maax [/ˈmeɪ.æks/ MAY-aks] is given a prophecy by his witches that he would die facing the son of King Zed. So he sends one of his witches to kidnap and kill the child, but before she can kill him, a villager rescues the child and raises him as his own son. Named Dar while raised in the village of Emur, the child learns how to fight, and has the ability to telepathically communicate with animals. Years later, a fully grown Dar witnesses his people being slaughtered by the Juns, a horde of fanatic barbarians allied with Maax. Dar, the only survivor of the attack, journeys to Aruk to avenge his people. In time, Dar is joined by a golden eagle he names Sharak, a pair of thieving ferrets he names Kodo and Podo, and a panther he names Ruh.

Eventually, Dar meets a redheaded slave girl called Kiri before getting himself lost and ending up surrounded by an eerie half-bird, half-human race who dissolve their prey for nourishment. As the bird men worship eagles, they spare Dar when he summons Sharak and give him an amulet should he need their aid. Dar soon arrives at Aruk where Maax had assumed total control with the Juns’ support. Maax has taken the children of the townspeople, and is sacrificing them to his god Ar. After having Sharak save the child of a townsman named Sacco, Dar learns that Kiri is to be sacrificed. On his way to save her, Dar is joined by Zed’s younger son Tal and his bodyguard Seth, learning that Kiri is Zed’s niece as the three work to save her. While Seth goes to gather their forces, Dar helps Kiri and Tal infiltrate the temple and rescue King Zed.

Zed leads his forces to attack the city, but they’re captured. Dar returns to save them from being sacrificed. In the conflict that follows, Maax reveals Dar’s relationship to Zed before slitting Zed’s throat and facing the Beastmaster. Despite being stabbed, revived by his remaining witch before she was killed, Maax is about to kill Dar when Kodo sacrifices himself to cause the high priest to fall into the sacrificial flames. But the victory is short-lived as the Jun horde is approaching Aruk, arriving by nightfall to face the trap Dar and the people set for them. Tal is wounded as Dar succeeds in burning most of the Juns alive while defeating their chieftain before the bird-men arrive to consume those remaining. The following day, Seth invites Dar to be the new king, but Dar explains that Tal would make a better king, and he leaves Aruk. Dar sets off into the wild with Kiri, Ruh, Sharak and Podo (who has given birth to two baby ferrets) on the path to new adventures.