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 Three
His hands were trembling as he gazed upon the shards lying before him. His breathing was hoarse and ragged; such was his excitement. Luther nearly had nearly gathered them all, but had been defeated. Then the mortal had collected them, only to lose them again. It was fitting for mortals to fail for their own arrogance.
He leaned back in his chair and calmed himself with a deep cleansing breath. He had watched that day. He had watched mortals try to bend Immortals to their will. He remembered his fear as the crystals fell into the river. He needed them. It had taken him many months to get someone to dredge the river. It had been worth the wait.
Then he received the last piece from his operatives in America. The owner didn’t even know it was gone. She now carried a fake and had no clue that it had been switched. That had been the flaw in the mortal’s plan so many years before. They had tried to kill her.
With hands still betraying inner nerves, he began to put the pieces together. It was a puzzle that built itself, for the pieces so obviously fit that a child could assemble them. Beneath his hands, the growing construct warmed. He now knew what the mortal must have felt when he held it, however briefly. The crystals had power, enormous power.
Finally, he held the last piece, the final crystal shard of the stone that would give him the power to defeat the King. It slid into place as easily as had the others, almost magnetically. The crystals wanted to be together. The entire construct throbbed with power in his hands. Once again, his breathing was harsh and labored. He couldn’t help but smile.
The crystal changed itself into a clear globe as he held it, beginning the transformation by its own power. The globe melted in his hands like so much water, but didn’t spill out. The liquid coated both sides of his hands, and then began to slide upward over his skin. The chill air of the apartment faded as the liquid covered him. Warmth began to spread through his body as well, hinting at power. He sighed as if a lover touched him. A moan escaped his lips, shattering the silence of the studio apartment.
Finally, the coating covered his head. He peered at a mirror and saw that the liquid had faded and he looked as he always had. He could feel the power, though.
He moved quickly, picking up the sword that lay next to the one he used to take heads. He placed it in a rack on the floor and locked it into place, blade parallel to the floor, its thin edge almost invisible when he looked down upon it.
He stood and moved back a few steps, then calmed himself again with a deep breath. She had said it would work. She had said he would be invincible. If she had lied, he would never know.
With sudden conviction, he leapt upward and prostrated himself in midair. He slapped his hands to his sides and plummeted to the floor, aiming his exposed neck at the sword in the rack. He hit his target with terrible force. The blade simply snapped and he was unharmed.
Lying on the floor amongst shards of steel, Mordred began to laugh.
* * *
“The Merlin?” Joe asked, incredulous.
Duncan smiled and nodded. “That’s what he claimed. I’ll admit he looks old enough for the part.”
Joe took another two swipes on the bar with his rag. “And Methos knows him?”
Joe stopped wiping the bar and looked right at Duncan. “You want me to check this guy out?”
“No. I know your rules too, Joe. I don’t know what Merlin’s game is yet, but I’m not going to join the team.”
Joe nodded briskly in approval. “Good. The Merlin?”
“Get over it, Joe.”
Duncan’s friend muttered under his breath and bent back to wiping the bar. Duncan was sure it was more than clean by now. He had been here for at least twenty minutes and Joe was still wiping it down.
“What’s on your mind, Joe? Or are you interested in how long it takes to wipe a bar down to a nub?”
He stopped his mindless wiping and looked at Duncan again. There was conflict in his eyes, and a great weight on his shoulders. “It’s nothing.” He returned to wiping the bar.
Duncan gently placed his hand over Joe’s, stilling the rag. “What is it Joe? I’m guessing it’s pretty big by how distracted you are.”
“You’ll think it’s stupid.”
Duncan laughed. “Probably, but spit it out already. It’ll help you clear your head.”
“Well, it’s Watcher business and, uh, well …”
Duncan leaned forward conspiratorially. “Oooh, two wells! This must be good.”
Joe grimaced a moment, but appeared to make his decision. “Somebody dredged the entire river where the Methuselah crystals fell. I know what you think, but it’s important to my organization and I thought you might want to know.”
Joe nodded his head and went back to wiping the bar again, still muttering.
“Joe, they’re a bunch of rocks! That’s all, nothing more.”
“Uh huh, just thought I’d say it anyway. I mean, even an Immortal as long-lived as yourself must find it coincidental that this Merlin shows up looking for them as well. I mean, maybe there’s something here you’re not aware of yet.”
Duncan stared at his friend for some time, well aware of the sarcasm directed at him. Joe was as good a friend as a mortal could be to an Immortal. He was easily one of the most logical men Duncan had ever met, and had an excellent recall of history. Rarely did he allow his emotions to drag him into the deep end, though.
“Can I ask you a personal question, Joe?”
He stopped his incessant bar wiping and looked up. “Shoot. But I reserve the right to not answer.”
“Fair enough,” said Duncan. “Since you knew that Ahriman reveled in lies and deceit and that he could make illusions seem real, along with the simple fact he was as evil as you could measure, why were you tempted by the legs he offered you? You should’ve known they wouldn’t work.”
“The legs he offered were real, MacLeod.”
Duncan leaned forward again. “Were they, Joe? You were asleep when he showed up. Maybe the whole thing was a nightmare?”
Joe clamped his mouth shut and Duncan saw the tendons in his friend’s neck expand from the force. Then he grated out, “Alright, maybe somewhere deep inside me, I knew they weren’t real. They were an illusion. Maybe that small part of me allowed me to refuse them. What the Hell does this have to do with Merlin anyway?”
Duncan patted Joe’s hand gently. “Just because the Watchers are interested in a bunch of rocks doesn’t mean the rocks themselves do anything. Just like a demon’s lies.”
Joe stared at Duncan for a while, then grinned. “Good point. You want me to check what I can find in the Chronicles about Merlin?”
“No, I just needed to hear myself talk through how ridiculous it sounds. Thanks Joe. Besides, Amanda has the last piece. You knew that, didn’t you?”
“No I didn’t. This is not good then. I saw a report from America about Amanda.”
Duncan grew serious. “Is she alright?”
Joe smiled slightly. “Yes Mac, she’s fine, but her apartments were robbed. Not necessarily related. Where does she keep it?”
“On her person and she protects it with her life.”
“Usually on the gold chain around her neck?”
Duncan smiled. “It is.”
Joe stopped. “Her Watcher snapped some photos of the robbery. One of the shots showed a man slipping what looked like a large crystal into a bag. He said it looked about two and a half inches long, maybe an inch around.”
Duncan’s smile vanished. “So the thief got robbed. It would be funny at another time. Thanks for the information.”
“You want me to check on her, or maybe let her know?”
Duncan shook his head. “Not yet. I will not become paranoid over a rock. Even if it was stolen and someone has all the pieces, it won’t matter. Thanks for the talk.”
“No problem Mac. The Merlin?”
Duncan was saluting Joe with his drink, but just let the glass fall to the bar, where it promptly spilled amber liquid everywhere. With a polite smile, he left, delighting in the grumbles about really cleaning the bar falling behind him.
* * *
The rain continued to fall on Paris. Overcast grey skies and a light breeze made everything dismal. People on the street were hunched against the cold, all too happy to spend as much time indoors as they could.
Duncan MacLeod was feeling much the same way, until he saw his barge from the bridge. A familiar figure stood on its decks, looking as miserable as the last time. With a deep sigh of resignation, Duncan forced himself to keep walking.
Methos watched him the entire time, looking as if he were trying to burrow into himself for warmth. Duncan boarded the barge and stopped just before him.
Shivering, Methos said, “Welcome home.”
Duncan asked, “Is he still here too?”
He shook his head. “No. He had a few things he said he needed to check into. I’ll have you know he was sorely disappointed in you.”
“Well, tell him I’m sorry.”
Duncan moved into the barge and shucked off his coat quickly. Methos followed, as usual. He put the tea to brewing again. He felt there was something else the older Immortal wanted to say, so he kept silent. The silence stretched.
Finally, Methos spoke. “What is so hard for you to believe?”
“The hardest thing for me to understand is how you can go along with this, whatever it is. He may even be Merlin, but that’s beside the point. The fact that he wants those crystals shows that he’s as crazy as Luther was. Those rocks don’t do anything.”
“As the oldest living Immortal, let me tell you there are things older and more powerful than even us MacLeod. There are things in and of this world that make our Game seem ridiculously small and insignificant. The Methuselah stone is one of those things.”
Duncan turned. “I’ll agree they have the power of greed on their side. Almost everyone who has ever coveted them is now dead.”
Methos sat down. “Let me continue my story for you, then. I can tell you of some other things like those crystals.”