For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting chapters of a novel I wrote in homage to Highlander: The Series.
I will add this disclaimer every week as well…
I do not own the characters for this novel. I am not receiving monetary reimbursement of any type for this piece of fiction.
Oh, most importantly…enjoy.
Highlander: The King and I Chapter Two
Duncan handed a steaming cup of tea to his new guest. Merlin nodded kindly in thanks and sipped carefully. He appeared to gauge the taste, then smiled warmly.
“Excellent. Do I detect a hint of jasmine?”
“Yes you do.”
Duncan was unsure of what to ask, if anything. Both Merlin and Methos had said next to nothing after their embrace. They sat next to each other, both starting to talk and then halting before uttering a sound. The absurdity was striking.
“Okay,” started Duncan, just to break the silence. “I’ve found in most cases, the stories and fables of our mortal cousins were rooted in fact, so I think I can believe that you’re the famous magician Merlin. I must admit though, thinking of… Him, in terms of Arthur is very difficult.”
Methos smiled. “He knows I’m Methos. Granted, I’m a little more cynical now Macleod, but I was Arthur when England needed it.”
“Yes he was. England needed a king and I found one for it.” Said Merlin.
Duncan wasn’t giving up though. “Why him? Nowadays he complains a lot and continues to cultivate the cynicism he’s elevated to an art form.”
Methos calmly regarded Duncan. “Let me tell you how it was MacLeod”
* * *
Chronicles of Methos Book Sixteen Part Three
484 AD English Coast south of London
It was early in the history of England. The Saxons were invading and the whole lot didn’t look too promising for the natives.
The boat I was in crossed the channel from the mainland early in the morning. Once it stopped, I dropped over the side with the tens of other Saxons doing the same thing. We waded ashore, checking our gear and looking at this new land.
The encampment along the shoreline was small considering the number of us that had come across. I assumed there were more encampments elsewhere. The dense morning fog almost swallowed the fires burning further on shore. I walked to a fire and claimed a spit with a cooked animal on it. I didn’t care what it was. I ignored the shouted curses behind me.
My numerous years of murdering with the Four Horsemen were long over, but still I had guilt as a constant companion. I had killed without need or cause for hundreds of years and I was sick of it. My soul wept for the mortals I had destroyed. But, as with others of our kind, I decided it was time to start anew. I found a place to start a new life, hopefully a lot less notorious one this time. Following rumors of the invasion of a new land, I became a Saxon and joined in. Thousands of years will hone any acting skills you want to have.
Some things are hard to stop. I stole the food, and then turned right around and stole a horse. Even something as trivial as theft helped to balloon the guilt I was feeling. I rode north, wanting to be alone, in my world of misery. After ascertaining that no one was following, I slowed my pace and traveled for a week, continuing north, but not really headed anywhere in particular.
Of course, English weather being as it is, soon there was a steady drizzle with occasional rain to accompany me. However, it was of a certain solace. The weather matched my mood and it fed my self-loathing perfectly. To top that off, I had no supplies and neither did the horse. Of course, the beast had plenty to eat. I had to resort to trapping small game or harvesting berries.
I found, to my surprise, my mood lifting. The whole daily process of fending for myself was peaceful and fulfilling. I wasn’t under the ever watchful eye of Kronos, or the others either. Fear is a depressant.
After my northward trek, I stayed in this lush place for another week, beginning to truly enjoy my time. My soul was being cleansed by nature’s hand. There is no better nurse than the Lady of the Lands.
The vacation ended abruptly when another came near. I’ll tell you the truth. I’d rather avoid a fight if I can. It has kept my head attached for many years. He who senses and runs away, keeps their head another day.
I leapt upon my horse and turned to gallop when he was there. Astride a huge black charger that dwarfed my own mount, he sat watching me. He had no visible weapon, just an open look of curiosity. The thought of attacking him squirmed into my head, but something stifled it.
He said, “I am Merlin.”
I couldn’t help but smile. Here we were, two Immortals in the middle of nowhere, but unwilling to fight. That didn’t happen that often back then, especially in a country torn by warfare. I was wet and I was tired and I guessed he saw that plainly enough. Merlin didn’t look all that ready to fight either.
Merlin’s smile stayed friendly. “Is that humorous?”
I held up my hand. “No, I’m sorry. I am Arthur. Are you here to challenge me?”
My question caught us both by surprise. I swear I sounded frightened out of my skull. I hoped Merlin would hear my words as fatigue.
“No Arthur, I see neither of us wishes conflict today. Perhaps food and drink?”
It was a simple offer with no promises or noticeable guile. I was drawn to it. Besides, my snares were empty that day and I was hungry. Not long after, we were sitting on comfortable skins under a lean-to, next to a roaring fire.
* * *
“So you called yourself Arthur?” asked Duncan.
Methos grinned. “A name as good as any other I suppose.”
Duncan couldn’t argue, but the thought of one of the most famous names in historical stories being an accident of sorts was somewhat disturbing. He glanced at Merlin, but the other Immortal was quietly finishing his tea.
Duncan asked, “Why were you looking for me?”
“Ah, yes. I was wondering when we’d get back to that. I need you because you have true honor. I need you because only you can avert a terrible tragedy.”
Duncan hung his head briefly and took a deep breath. He was so utterly tired of being the hero. Besides, he had just been the hero to save the world from Ahriman, sacrificing Richie in the process. Duncan unconsciously clenched his fist.
“Sorry, I just saved all mankind and I’m booked until next week.”
Merlin didn’t react to the sarcasm. MacLeod grimaced inwardly. It was unlike him to be so moody, but he was spiritually and emotionally drained. He didn’t want any part of what Merlin was proposing, even if he hadn’t heard anything yet. But still, Duncan had to be a good host.
Merlin asked, “Do you remember the immortal, Rebecca?”
“Yes. She lost to Luther as I recall and he, in turn, lost to me.”
Merlin nodded. “Good. Do you remember the Methuselah Crystal?”
Duncan laughed, though somehow it was a grim and hollow sound. Someone else believed the crazy tale about Immortals gaining almost infinite power from a bunch of rocks. His appraisal of Merlin suddenly dropped, markedly.
He said, “Yes, I remember them too. Amanda wanted them terribly. Methos tried to lay his hands on them as well.”
Methos answered that with a bitter tone. “I was trying to save someone’s life.”
Duncan stood up and went to get more tea for himself and his guests. “Nathan Stern wanted them too, thinking they would make him Immortal. They didn’t.”
Merlin sighed. “Sad, but true for Mr. Stern, I agree. Equally sad for Mr. Greiger who briefly held them and assembled them. What happened to the crystals then?”
Duncan poured tea into the magician’s cup. “They fell in the river, no doubt to be lost in the muck and mire. What’s so important about them Merlin? Looking for invulnerability?”
“No. However, someone else has gotten there first. He dredged that entire section of river and quite possibly recovered all of the shards. If he has, only one thing can stop him.”
Duncan sat down again after returning the teapot. “Who is he?”
Merlin sat back in his seat, obviously enjoying the tea immensely. “Mordred, sworn enemy of Arthur and England. He is also one of us. If he has the crystal intact, he is indeed the most powerful among us.”
Duncan set his teacup down, a little harder than he intended. The spoon and saucer rattled loudly. “The whole thing is a fairy tale anyway Merlin. The rocks don’t do anything. I told Amanda the same thing and guess what? She didn’t believe me either. Besides, she carries the last shard with her and would give her life to protect it.”
Merlin waved the comment away. “Oh MacLeod, the crystals do indeed hold immense powers, the least of which is to make an Immortal invulnerable. If Mordred has them, he cannot be killed.”
Duncan shot back. “If he loses his head, he dies like the rest of us.”
“Not if your blade can’t touch him. There is only one thing Mordred must fear. There is only one weapon that can harm him. That weapon is Excalibur.”
Duncan laughed again, and even felt humor in it this time. “That’s ridiculous. While you’re at it, why don’t you find the ski off of Santa’s sleigh and beat Mordred with that?”
Methos sat forward and rested his arms on his knees. “C’mon MacLeod, where’s that open mind of yours? I was there. I saw what was possible back then. Quite frankly, I believe him.”
Duncan turned back to Merlin. “That doesn’t explain why you need me.”
The magician smiled. “Excalibur is a unique weapon in as many ways as the Methusela stone has powers. A mere mortal cannot wield Excalibur, more importantly, only an Immortal of true honor and purpose can.”
“Methos can’t use it?”
The grin that Methos gave back was his trademark, ‘Oops, I forgot to mention that’ face. “I told you MacLeod, I was a wee bit less cynical back then.”
Merlin stood. “I need you Duncan MacLeod, to wield Excalibur and deal with Mordred.”
Duncan shook his head slowly. “You’ll have to look elsewhere then Merlin. I stopped being a mercenary many years ago. You and the King here can discuss it while I’m gone because I’m not staying here to listen to anymore of this.”
Merlin nodded. “Perhaps if you hear more of Arthur’s tale, you might finds facts evident within the myth.”
“With all due respect Merlin, perhaps Arthur can explain why I can’t be the one you need.”
That said, Duncan stood up, grabbed his coat, and left the barge quickly.