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 Ten
Travels of Merlin Book 7 Part One
484 AD South of Edinburgh
I admit that as an Immortal, it is more important to pay attention to the details that keep your head firmly attached to your shoulders. However, I also admit that meeting Morgan Le Fey scrambled my thinking to a degree that hadn’t happened in centuries prior. Her beauty knew no limits and she could use magic. Though love has never been clearly defined for immortals, it was as close as I had ever come to it.
By using my knowledge of magic, sparingly at that, I convinced Morgan that I could teach her things. She was direct and wasted no time in letting me know what she wanted. For the first few months together, it was a tug-of-war to see who would dominate the other. Eventually, Morgan backed off, realizing I wouldn’t teach her all the things I knew, or even close to it because to do so would put myself in danger.
Morgan told me. “Keep your remaining secrets magician. I’m sure there are things you know that would further my knowledge, but it is obvious you are nervous about them. I shall not ask further.”
“I am pleased you see that Morgan. Your knowledge is already vast as it is and you learn quicker than anyone I have ever taught. It is truly a pleasure to have a pupil as apt as you.”
Morgan smiled. “Why thank you Merlin. Those are kind words.”
Now, to this point, I was more interested in learning Mordred’s plans, but I had not even sensed him to that point. Not knowing where he was made me nervous. I briefly wondered if a trip to Camelot would be the right thing to do. Then again, Arthur had been reigning for a few months, six at the most and didn’t need me ruining what he was doing. Rumors still traveled faster than birds or galloping horses and everyone knew what King Arthur was doing in England.
I asked, “Who leads this effort to unseat Arthur?”
Since Morgan had always been direct, I figured the direct approach might work as well.
Morgan raised a hand to her shoulder and turned to the fireplace. “I do.”
I was confused. “What of Mordred?”
Morgan turned back to me, almost laughing. “That fool? He started the effort, true, but could not sustain it. He cannot govern, nor lead. I can, so I wrested control and forced him to my service.”
I nodded, though a cold sick feeling was forming in my stomach. Not only did I not know where Mordred was, I didn’t know what his role was. From what I had heard during my travels, Mordred’s hatred for Arthur was immense. You cannot just lock that away. There was more than one war brewing. Which one would be fought first?
I decided to be direct again. “So then, what are your plans? Since Mordred’s gone, are you still going to invade?”
Morgan’s eyes flashed. “You ask a lot of questions.”
Maybe humor would work. “Well, the last few months all the questions were yours.”
“Then answer one more.”
I said, “You need only ask.”
Her hand twisted the braid on her gown and the whole thing fell to the floor. I had never seen a more beautiful woman than her. I may be Immortal, but I am still male. She was stunning, alluring, and sensual, all at the same time. Even the definition of those words failed to describe what she looked like.
Morgan asked me, “Do you want me?”
My mouth was drier than the desert air of Egypt. My heart hammered in my chest harder than the war drums of the African warriors. Three months together and I had never felt she wanted anything from me than knowledge. I was speechless.
I managed a strangled reply. “Yes.”
Understand I am a more than capable lover. How many Immortals have lived for centuries or longer that have never learned the arts of love? This was different for me though in that I actually cared for her. Suddenly, things weren’t making sense. My head was light and my sight was focused solely on her naked form. My breathing was ragged and harsh. I might have thought she had cast a spell on me, but I knew it was the oldest magic of all. I had fallen to the spell of lust.
She came to me in two long strides, the muscles of her statuesque legs taking my breath further away. I was glad she asked nothing more, because I would be unable to speak. Her slender arms reached up to my head and gently pulled me down to her. When she kissed me, my world of rational thought, or what was left of it, vanished. That was our first time together. There would be plenty more.
* * *
Duncan examined his tea, somewhat upset that it had gotten cold. “So, if Mordred wasn’t in charge then, how could she ever hope to raise an army? Granted she is a forceful person, but I would think warriors would more willingly follow a man.”
Merlin signaled a waiter for more tea. “Well, I’ll say again that she is very skilled in magic. She could force a lot of people against their will.”
Methos was writing in a small notepad, furiously. “Wait a minute though. If she was to force as many people to fight as I witnessed against us, she wouldn’t have the power to do strikes of lightning as well. Was she, is she that powerful?”
Laughter was Merlin’s first reply. “It is nice to see you focused on something again. What are you writing down?”
“I’ve already chronicled my time as Arthur and all of my life as well. This is some good additional information I plan to include.”
Merlin sat still for a moment. “You actually did it? When you told me that you were going to write out your life’s moments, I thought you were insane. So, after you left England, I noted my own life and travels.”
More tea arrived and Duncan was having trouble controlling his mirth. There were times when Merlin and Methos appeared as brothers. It gave him a glimpse though, far deeper into who Methos was than he had ever gotten from the older Immortal himself. Duncan was honored.
“To answer your question though, no, she was not that powerful. She has plenty of punch, but not nearly as much as myself.”
Duncan asked, “Did you find out where Mordred was?”
“Eventually, yes. But there were more pressing matters to unfold first.”
The tea was hot and refreshing. The sun was warm again and nearly all dark thoughts were out of Duncan’s head. He was getting close to being at peace again.
He asked, “Like how Morgan tricked you?”
The magician laughed again. “Very astute Highlander! She played me like an antique violin. Did she use the old magics? No, she used her feminine wiles.”
Methos grunted from behind his notebook. “Sucker.”
Duncan continued. “How did you not see it?”
Merlin gestured at Duncan with an open palm. “How many students have you had in your life? Have they always done exactly what you thought they would? Have any of your students ever been exactly what they were supposed to be all the time?”
Duncan was quiet for a long time. His reply was a whisper. “No.”
The noisy scratching of Methos’ writing had stopped. Duncan saw the older Immortal watching him from above the notebook. Those eyes that could dissect a person held nothing but grief. A single scar opened inside him and once again, he was awash in Richie’s death.
Merlin had also stopped. He rested both hands in his lap and studied Duncan.
The magician said, “I’m sorry. I have opened a wound.”
With a heavy sigh, Duncan forced all the sick feelings back into their box in his head. He didn’t have the time or want to visit them now, or anytime soon.
Merlin stood up. “Well then, we shall continue later. I will scout ahead today and make sure that everything is in place. Arthur, I would have you stay here with MacLeod for the day. We shall journey again tomorrow.”
The magician left, after leaving more than enough money to cover the tea. Methos put down his pad and secured his pen in the binding.
“How come he never calls you Methos?”
“What’s in a name? I suspect he likes to keep things as simple as possible.”
They were silent for some time. Methos was normally very talkative, but Duncan found the silence eerie.
Finally, Duncan said, “What?”
“Are you okay? Merlin didn’t know of course.”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Those wounds heal even after they get ripped open again.”
Methos cupped his hands around his remaining tea. “Anything you want to talk about?”
Duncan raised his head and looked Methos in the eyes. “No.”
“You can’t keep it all inside MacLeod. You know this.”
Duncan’s reply was a short growl. “For now, I will.”
Methos shrugged. “Suit yourself, but there will come an accounting with yourself, just as when the Dark Quickening took you. Then, as now, a part of yourself will need to be fought and conquered so you may be at peace.”
Duncan looked at his empty cup. “Let’s focus on the task at hand.”
The sunlight continued to warm England, but a cold pit of rage was stoked in Duncan’s heart. No matter how much he talked through it, or how many friendly counselors he engaged, the end result would be the same. Richie was dead, and by his own hand. Teachers slew their students in the Game, as the students sometimes turned on their mentors. Richie could have done that, but he had been Duncan’s friend. Duncan had betrayed that friendship by taking Richie’s Quickening. Even when battling the lies and illusions of Ahriman, Duncan knew he should not have fallen for that trap. It was his fault and he could never forgive himself.
The cold core of his heart shunted his thoughts to the cold steel of his blade, nestled near him as it had been ever since the first attack by Mordred. The steel harbinger echoed the exactness of the self-imposed misery Duncan was using to cut his own soul. With dark thoughts prevailing, Duncan flayed himself mentally as he had done a thousand times already. He sometimes wondered how he remained not only sane, but resistant to death.