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 Four
Chronicles of Methos Book Sixteen Part Three
484 AD West of London
Merlin explained to me the peril this land was in. Several warring factions were killing with abandon, and not just their enemies. It seemed to me that they were killing for the sheer joy of the act. I suppose I should have rejoiced in the fact that I was sickened by the thought of slaughter now, after participating in it for so long. I had tried so hard to escape, but there I was again, surrounded by death and dying.
Merlin said to me. “I feel the same as you my new friend. These vandals are killing themselves and the land around them. This new country may not survive their wars.”
I asked, “Do you have a plan?”
“As of yet, no. I have an idea, but no details.”
My heart sank a bit. “I applaud your desire to stop the fighting, but I don’t think these people will stop to listen to anyone. They seem decidedly against conversation.”
We had spent four weeks together touring the land and observing the all too numerous battles. I had maintained my fledgling joy of life, but it was fading in the face of these mortals and their constant slaughter.
Merlin told me his idea. “They need a king.”
I laughed. When I looked at him and saw the seriousness in his face, my laugh tapered off. “Merlin, the last thing these people need is a king. Another king to them is just another target and another reason to fight.”
He waved away my words. “No, no. They need a king they can all follow. They need a king whose words will be as law until they can govern themselves.”
“I don’t think they’ll follow any man, even one well gifted in words and actions.”
Merlin smiled. “He won’t be a man. He will be an Immortal.”
“Who?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
He pointed a finger at me. “Arthur! The Immortal who would be king!”
I was rather amused. “We still haven’t covered the how yet.”
“Details. All that is just details. Will you wear the mantle of king to unite this land?”
At that time, I was still bone-tired of killing and violence in general. His idea was strange, but I was drawn to it as a moth to a flame. The idea of being responsible for building a peace instead of participating in wholesale bloodshed was vastly appealing.
I answered. “Yes, I will be your king.”
To my surprise, we spent another month together just planning. Since he had no concrete plan, he accepted and evaluated every suggestion I had. That small seed within me for an end to the violence was growing.
I suggested that we needed a seat of power in a generally centralized location. Anyone that came to us would appreciate the fairness of that. Those that traveled farther were usually much angrier for their travels. Merlin agreed.
Then things began to get strange. Merlin knew that only through mysticism of the highest order would he be able to get all the factions to even notice us. It would take a greater degree of mysticism to get enough men to follow us that we could use that pool to persuade others to join our cause.
We were nearing the end of our planning time as spring turned into summer. Britain was alive with color, vibrant and refreshing. The warring subsided a bit, almost in celebration of the season.
Merlin and I were scouting territory for where we would set up our new seat of government. It was high on a hill, with a breathtaking view. My mood however, was pensive.
I said, “I don’t like the idea of using men to force others to our path. Isn’t that what we’re trying to abolish?”
Merlin nodded solemnly. “Yes it is, but I fear it will be necessary to a degree. Not everyone will willingly come to us. There are those that will only understand subjugation before they will allow themselves to see the light of truth.”
I was forced to agree with that. Being as old as I was, I had met many of those types before. I was also sure I’d meet them again. Even amongst our kind, there are those that are slaves to the Game, rather than seeing what they could accomplish with their years.
“Have you given any thought to how we will draw others to us? We have a lovely sight for a castle, but not even two stacked stones. We have an exciting idea for leadership, but no followers. And don’t tell me its all details.”
Merlin smiled. He did that a lot. I could tell then that he knew things that no one else had even guessed at. Even living as long as I had, I’d never dreamed there would be things that would make immortality seem almost trite. I was very happy he liked me.
He said, “I will make a sword.”
I almost laughed again, but remembered how serious he had been before about the land needing a king. “How exactly will a sword help?”
Then Merlin laughed. It was rich and deep, with true humor. I had never seen him like this. The closest he got to humor was his constant smiles. I didn’t know whether or not to run back to Gaul. However, I trusted him and my trepidation over his plan had almost vanished.
He continued. “I will make a sword unlike any other my friend, a sword whose purpose is merely that of a symbol. In theory, it need never be drawn more than once.”
I shook my head. “I’m sorry, I can’t see the relevance. Having a sword won’t go very far in getting people to follow us. Please enlighten me.”
“Don’t worry Arthur. It is not the having of the sword that makes it special. It is the getting of the sword that will make you the figure to follow.”
I was intrigued, but he would tell me nothing further. He seemed a little withdrawn, as if husbanding his strength for something. He bade me to sleep and since I had nothing better to do, I curled up near the fire and dozed off.
* * *
“I’ll give you high marks for telling a good story Methos, but you still haven’t said anything that would make me think the crystals are other than a bunch of cheap rocks.”
Methos spread his hands with a shrug. “I haven’t gotten to the good part yet. The next morning, when I awoke…”
Duncan held up a hand as he stood. “Sorry, I can’t listen anymore. I think I need time to assimilate this a bit.”
He didn’t hear any reply as he grabbed his coat and left the barge. Perhaps he just didn’t listen for one. Duncan hated being rude, even to Methos, but he couldn’t listen anymore. He was rather surprised he had listened as long as he had.
Duncan walked the streets of Paris again, uncaring of the light rain, so lost in his own thoughts. He hoped Methos would leave the barge too, so Duncan could return later and have peace.
Granted, Duncan was much younger than Methos, as Immortals counted age, but he had seen strange things too. There was the strange root elixir than Kiem Sun has used to create incredible warriors. Those warriors then died an agonizing death. Duncan remembered the effects of that drug with a chill.
He had met the Dali Lama, more than once. Each time, though a lifetime had passed and a new man took the office, he still remembered MacLeod. It was a different form of immortality only, but one Duncan respected.
Then there was his own immortality. That was strange enough in its own right. How was it that he was chosen to bear this gift when so many mortals did not? Though Duncan had argued that several times with Connor and neither got anywhere. There’s no sense arguing what you can’t change.
And then there were the mortals themselves, with drive and passions within them to create marvels of their own, perhaps spurred by their own short time on earth. Duncan had lived for over 400 years, but that was insignificant in the face of the accomplishments that generations of mortal man had achieved.
Still, that was science. Methos was talking magic. Then there was Merlin. He was magic. Through legend and history, Merlin’s name had always been synonymous with magic. If the Immortal Merlin was truly the legend of old, what did that mean?
The feeling hit him hard, as if to jolt him from his reverie. Another was near. Duncan stopped and searched the streets, somewhat surprised to find them deserted. His hand stole inside his coat and grasped nothing. His katana was in the trunk on his barge.
The other stepped out of shadows and into a streetlight. Duncan realized how late it was now. He really needed to pay better attention, or he would pay a hefty price. The other Immortal was tall; wet blonde hair cut close to the skull. Even at the distance the other was at, Duncan could see and almost feel the malevolence in the other’s eyes.
Letting the enemy know of his disadvantage would shame Sun Tzu’s teachings, so Duncan decided to bluff. He let his hand fall to his side and took a sure step forward.
“I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.”
His name carried in the Immortal world. Duncan could remember a few times where the mere mention of his name sent other immortals scurrying away like roaches under lights.
This Immortal was not one of them. “I am Mordred. You are a companion to the King. I will have to take your head for that.”
Mordred moved forward slowly, revealing the flamberge in his hand. The wicked wave of the blade caught the light with menace. Duncan narrowed his eyes. The wavy blade was for those practitioners who used timing in swordplay, to disrupt their opponent’s timing. Consone had taught Duncan that. Consone would also frown on Duncan for forgetting his weapon.
“So, you are the famous Highlander.”
Duncan stood his ground, studying his opponent and weighing his options. The only one he saw at the moment was to wait.
“What’s wrong MacLeod? Where’s that famous katana of yours?”
MacLeod said nothing. Mordred was only steps away and readying to attack. Still, Duncan waited. Mordred’s stance was wrong. The way the other Immortal held his sword was wrong too, like a complete amateur.
Mordred attacked, telegraphing his swing so badly, that Duncan barely had to move to avoid the sword. He feinted to Mordred’s left, then stepped in to a powerful side-kick, extending his whole body into the blow. Mordred was thin, but it still felt to Duncan that he’d kicked a wall. Still, Mordred staggered back a few steps, then tripped and sat down hard on the cold, wet street. Duncan tried not to laugh.
Mordred’s eyes were seething pools of rage. He gathered himself slowly, getting up while Duncan fell back to watching and waiting. How old was Mordred anyway? How could he have survived so long with such terrible skill with a sword?
Duncan watched the other Immortal begin to dust himself off, obviously taking his time. That allowed Duncan his decision, something he had done so rarely, he could count them on one hand. Like the time Hyde attacked him while Richie was in jail, Duncan ran.
After a confused moment’s hesitation, Mordred took off after him, screaming insults. Duncan easily outdistanced his pursuer, growing more confused as he ran. Immortals, as a rule, were in great shape. If they weren’t, they died. Yet MacLeod could hear Mordred huffing and puffing in the distance behind him.
Rather than worry about it, since being without a weapon left him vulnerable to even the most inept, Duncan ran into the night, leaving the bumbling Mordred far behind.