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 Seven
Breath came first; a single ragged gasp that seared the lungs. Feeling followed next, like fire scorching through his body. His limbs convulsed and his back arched upward to a nearly unbelievable bow. His heart began pounding, suffusing his body with life again.
Sight was last, a tiny tunnel at first that expanded quickly. A face hovered above his, etched with age and concern. “Mac! Mac. Are you alright?”
Duncan blinked at Joe. “That may be the dumbest question you’ve ever asked me.”
Joe’s relieved smile was a welcome sight. “Forgive us mortals for giving a damn.”
Duncan felt the last vestiges of his reawakening fade from his body. He hated dying; it was always painful. He pushed himself up, but still allowed Joe to lend a helpful hand.
“I take it you saw everything?”
Joe shook his head. “Nope. I got a call from one of my guys that witnessed it. I got over here as fast as I could, but only caught the finale. I, uh, saw you get run through. That’s something I don’t care to see again.”
Duncan’s hand stole down below his chest in memory. “Not something I care to repeat either. Lucky for me I had Holy Ground nearby.”
Joe nodded. “Brilliant action my friend.”
Duncan asked, “What happened next?”
“I’d rather not say. Not right now at least. I do have some questions for you though. Let’s take a walk.”
That was the absolute last thing Duncan wanted to do. He needed time to figure things out. So many thoughts, and no time left. Of all things, Duncan knew Mordred would be back soon. However, Joe was a Watcher and the information at the man’s disposal was extensive. Duncan wasn’t one to waste good resources.
“Sure Joe, let’s walk. I have quite a few questions for you too.”
They walked, either lost in their own thoughts, or just not ready to voice them. It was a full ten minutes before Joe couldn’t stand the silence anymore.
“I saw your strike against Mordred. You should’ve had his head. What the Hell happened?”
Duncan shrugged. “He had some sort of protection, like armor on his neck.”
“I ain’t buying that Mac. He had a collar on his coat and you sliced right through it. You hit his neck clean.”
“Yes I did. It was like hitting a wall.”
Joe stopped. “How did he do it?”
Duncan kept walking. “Doesn’t matter.”
“What?! It sure as Hell matters! This Immortal has some means of invulnerability and you don’t care?”
Duncan stopped and turned. “That’s not what I said Joe. Merlin told me that the weapon he calls Excalibur can defeat Mordred’s armor.”
“You’re believing this magic crap now?”
“I never said that either.”
Joe pointed his cane at Duncan. “Of all the things that make up Duncan MacLeod as I know him, your reliance on fact has always been the one that impressed me most.”
“I can’t say the same thing about myself Joe, but thanks. Besides, this is an instance where the facts are chosen from within the mystical.”
Joe massaged his beard. “I don’t get it.”
“Look at the facts that are important. Merlin comes to me, but doesn’t challenge me. He tells me Mordred is invulnerable and there is only one way to harm him. Mordred has some sort of protection that does exactly what Merlin said it does. Those facts don’t change.”
“Okay Mac, but how does this protection work?”
Duncan shrugged. “Like I said before, it doesn’t matter. If what Merlin knows is true, that only a certain weapon can harm Mordred, then I must have that weapon.”
Joe was getting agitated again. “Mac, what if Merlin is wrong? What if he’s lying?”
“If he’s wrong, then there isn’t much I can do against Mordred anyway, except run. As for lying, Methos vouches for Merlin.”
Joe was silent, measuring Duncan’s logic. “Not that I’m unsure of your abilities, but why you?”
Duncan started walking again. “Merlin needs me. Methos trusts him, so I think I can too, at least to a small extent. My resume fits his needs. Besides, I need my katana back. Mordred’s made this personal.”
Joe grimaced. “Yeah. Sorry about your sword Mac. If there was a way, I’d have tried it.”
“Nature of the beast Joe. I’ll get it back.”
“So, what’s next?
Duncan stopped again and grinned at his friend. “I need to see a man about a magic sword.”
* * *
The Citroen was lightly packed. No one thought a trip to England would last overly long. Duncan drove, Merlin next to him, and Methos behind him.
Duncan said, “Explain this to me. Mordred can only be harmed by Excalibur, why?”
The magician thought a bit. “The sword has an active, offensive type enchantment. The Methuselah Stone is a defensive enchantment. The two should cancel each other out.”
Merlin smiled. “Magic has never been an exact science.”
Methos leaned forward from the back seat. “Why do you even ask? You already said you don’t believe and the how is not important.”
Duncan replied evenly. “Something’s confusing me and I need enlightenment. If that comes from talking about magic, then so be it.”
Then Merlin laughed. “What’s on your mind MacLeod?”
“In my fight with Mordred, his skill with a sword appeared to get better at an incredible rate. If the fight had lasted longer than it did, his skill might have eclipsed my own.”
“Ooh, a bruised ego!” exclaimed Methos. “At last, the old MacLeod returns!”
Duncan said, “Also, what sort of powerful magic is used to shut him up?”
Methos held up his hands in mock surrender. “We all hide our abilities when we fight MacLeod; its part of survival. Only use what you need to win.”
“That’s true enough, but his ability wasn’t hidden. I’ve trained with the best and I know what I saw. I can tell when opponents are holding back. Offense and defense alike, Mordred had the skills of a beginner when we started. He proceeded straight through intermediate to master.”
Merlin stroked his beard. “I suppose there may be more to those stones than invulnerability. To what end though?”
Duncan answered before he thought about it. “In case somebody found a way to defeat the shield.”
An hour later, they arrived in Calais at the port of the hovercraft that would take them across the channel to Dover. It was a huge vehicle, yet another example of the potential of Duncan’s mortal cousins. As always, he was impressed by the depth of their knowledge and determination to leave a mark on their world that would last beyond their own short time. It was a sad thing in some ways, but the drive mortals showed was fueled by their own knowledge of mortality. It was possibly their greatest tool, along with their demise.
Once the car was parked inside the giant hovercraft, the three immortals adjourned to a table in the lounge and ordered some coffee to beat back the chill in the air.
Duncan said, “Well, this trip takes a little bit, why don’t you finish your tale of Arthur?”
Methos chuckled. “Why not? The best part is up next.”
* * *
Chronicles of Methos Book Sixteen Part Eight
490 AD Camelot
I was content. For nearly six years, I had ruled in England the way it should be done. The people, my people, had a voice. It was the first stirrings of democracy, though rather limited. I was still the king. More important though, England was at peace.
As Merlin and I had thought, there were wars to fight after I took the throne, but they were won quickly and decisively. Only a year passed before there was peace, and it lasted. Lords and peasants got along and helped each other willingly. Yes, there were occasional squabbles, but I settled those when needed and with the same fairness I wanted in my kingdom. All in all, it was as near perfect as you can get.
Of Merlin, there was no sign. I always wondered what happened to him. Had another Immortal, or even Mordred, taken his head while I was asleep? That thought depressed me, even though our shared dream was more fruitful than we’d ever hoped.
Knights had searched, but found nothing of note. They were fervent in their efforts, trying to find the elusive cure for my despondency. They were searching for the Immortal that would be the Holy Grail to restore my spirits. I called it off before it got too far out of hand.
Rumors began to surface of a new army gathering in what was to be Scotland. This army was massive and bent on our destruction. Many of my people began to migrate away, afraid for their lives. I decided to wait, rumors being only rumors.
It was nearly Christmas when Merlin appeared. I was conducting business with disgruntled merchants when the doors to the hall banged open with authority. My surprise at the interruption was short lived when I saw the source. Frankly, he looked terrible, as if his immortal age was catching up with him.
He cried out to me. “Arthur! Saddle your knights! War comes to England!”
I was confused. “What? Tell me why I should ready my people to fight.”
He leaned on his staff, a new implement since I’d seen him last. “Forgive me, but time grows short. Mordred marches and he has numbers to turn the hills black. He comes for you.”
That was another name I hadn’t heard for a while. A cold shiver walked up my spine. Mordred was dangerous, and I feared him. Of course, I fear anybody after my head. It’s a defense of sorts.
I stood up. “How long?”
“Three weeks, four at most. He’s driving them like a demon, letting them rest long enough to eat; then pushing onward.”
I said, “That might be a boon. If his troops are tired, then perhaps we may persevere as we are fresh.”
“He brings magic with him.”
I crossed the courtroom, waving everyone away until we could speak quietly. “Merlin, please do not alarm everyone with that sort of talk.”
It was a switch for me, considering what I’d seen Merlin do, but that was Merlin. I didn’t know what Mordred was capable of. Ignorance is not a good defense.
Merlin said, “Mordred has a witch on his side. I know not the full extent of her powers, but they are enough that I knew their presence from two leagues. I advise caution, but rally your troops Arthur. We win this war, our dream is realized.”
I nodded. “Where have you been?”
“There is no time to talk of that now, you must march. Take Excalibur and lead your men. When all is done, we will talk at great length. I must go and deal with the witch.”
Then he left. I was startled; his manner had changed so much. Then his counsel took root in my head. He was abrupt, because there was no time. I hurried to raise the troops. After years of peace and prosperity, Camelot armed for war.