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 Twelve
The sunlight warming Southern England did nothing for Duncan MacLeod as he waited for the others. A late breakfast would help sustain his physical energy, but spiritually and emotionally, Duncan was exhausted. And beginning to believe that Morgan had cast a spell on him was more than he could stomach. With the small crowd on the patio, he knew he was safe from challenges too, almost as good as Holy Ground.
He ignored the presence of another, to hear, “Good morning MacLeod.”
Methos actually looked chipper, which would have amazed Duncan had the Highlander’s mood been any better. The elder Immortal dropped into a seat opposite Duncan and was about to say something when Merlin swept in, just behind the tide of his presence. He sat down easily and nodded to Duncan and Methos.
A waiter appeared as if by magic and Duncan grimaced. They ordered quickly, though MacLeod wouldn’t confess to being very hungry. Silence reigned, past their tea arriving, and then past their breakfast arriving.
Merlin broke the silence. “Everything is where it was left and all is prepared. However, I feel something is not right.”
Methos leaned forward. “Why so glum MacLeod?”
Duncan sipped his tea. “Morgan knows why we’re here.”
Merlin grinned. “True, as you told her yesterday. I have decided that was an excellent tactic. I believe you’d be a good chess player.”
Duncan managed a small smile. “Not a master, that’s for certain. No, Morgan came to my room last night.”
Impossibly, Methos perked up even more. “Oh, did she? And your famous stoicism yielded her, what?”
“Everything. I don’t understand. I couldn’t stop myself from telling her whatever she asked me.”
Merlin thoughtfully sipped some tea. “That doesn’t explain your demeanor Duncan. Most men and Immortals alike would be very proud to bed Morgan. I know I was.”
Duncan waved away the comment. “That’s not it. She’s attractive and carries a lot of presence, but I should be able to resist that easily. Especially knowing she’s linked with an enemy.”
The magician put his tea down. “Of course you should, but this time your mind was clouded and your senses were screaming at you, but you were almost forced into compliance. Am I correct?”
Duncan just looked at Merlin for a long time. “I’m afraid to ask how you know that.”
Merlin smiled, without a hint of sarcasm. “You were under her spell. Now before you object, let me ask you a question. Were you in total control of your actions?”
“Of course I was. I mean, I think so.”
Methos chimed in. “Or not.”
Duncan looked down. “Or not.”
The sick feeling he had experienced before just thinking of the possibility of falling prey to magic returned. It was a tough blow and he felt his stomach turn violently.
Merlin asked, “Do remember what I told you about the old magics in Paris?”
“Yes, the magic is in the belief.”
Merlin sipped more tea. “You believed she could get what she wanted from you, therefore, she could, and did.”
“She’s a beautiful woman. Hard not to believe a woman of that stature not getting what she wants from any man, or Immortal.”
Methos snorted. “Especially with you MacLeod. Your generosity to the opposite sex is nearly as legendary as your honor.”
Merlin allowed himself another smile. “She is beautiful, but keeping your mind clear and focused to oppose the belief that she could coerce you is paramount. Just as swordplay requires skill and focus, so does magic.”
The magician continued, “Belief is the most powerful force in nature next to love. The most heinous lie can be made true through belief alone. The old magic is basically the lies given existence.”
Duncan tasted a bit of his breakfast. “So refusing to believe in magic is not enough.”
“Oh MacLeod, you believe now. I’m as sure of that as I am that I am breathing.”
Methos looked to Merlin. “What now then?”
The magician shrugged. “I don’t think this incident changes anything. They don’t know where the sword is, and even if they did, they couldn’t retrieve it. Next step is theirs. As for us, we keep on schedule.”
Duncan asked, “What is that schedule?”
Merlin glanced at his watch. “I tell you about how Morgan tricked me.”
* * *
Travels of Merlin Book 8 Part 2
488 AD South of Edinburgh
Much as I tried, Morgan would not tell me more of Mordred or her plans for eliminating Arthur. I had begun to plan myself more aggressively. It was obvious to me that the army in place was still swelling with the years that had passed. And the huge group of soldiers was becoming restless, even though discipline was ruthlessly enforced. Something was going to happen, but I still did not know what or when.
Morgan and I continued our affair, my becoming recognized throughout the camp as her chosen lover and confidant. It was somewhat helpful knowing I could pass through the men at will and even question them if I wished. What made me nervous was that Morgan didn’t care if I did. It meant she must have felt the inevitability outweighed her security.
In late spring, after managing to determine that the army was still not yet ready to move, I decided to get the lay of the land for the thousandth time. If it was possible, perhaps Arthur could be brought here with his men and take Morgan’s army out from under her. If only it were possible.
Near the lake, I found a large outcropping of heather. I knew my stores of natural flora were low for my studies, so I decided to collect some. After transferring some promising ingredients to my belt pouch, I saw some reeds at the water’s edge that I needed as well.
I waded into the shallows, mentally dismissing those reeds that did not suit my needs. I moved further in to the growth and abruptly found myself in a small area of clear water. There was a girl swimming there too. I silently backed away again, into the cover of reeds as she had not seen me. Rather than leave, I looked at her again through the reeds.
She was young, maybe younger than twenty summers and beautiful. Her hair was a pale blonde falling long past her shoulders, framing eyes as blue as the winter sky. I had seen her before, had actually been watching her because she was Immortal, though she had not yet died her first death.
Her name was Nimue and she did quite a few chores in camp, though the men avoided anything approaching inappropriate. I believed Morgan knew she was a new Immortal and was taking a hand to keep her safe, though why she would was beyond me. Morgan was far more concerned with her plans of conquest.
My foot slipped in the mire and I shifted, causing a stir in the water. Nimue spun about.
“Who is there?”
“It is I, Merlin. I did not mean to disturb you.”
Nimue said, “Come forth that I may see you.”
I did, concentrating fiercely on not slipping again. It would be unseemly for a powerful magician to be less than sure on his feet. I was amazed that even as old as I was, I was still vain around the fairer sex.
She stood before me, arms across her breasts and studied me openly. There was no fear; and other than her arms, no false modesty either. After some time of silence, she suddenly smiled at me.
She said, “I have been meaning to approach you Merlin. I have a question to ask.”
I felt foolish, standing in the water gazing upon this beauty, yet trying to maintain some sort of composure when I would much rather have been either far away, or ravishing her. I managed to get myself under control, still surprised at my own thoughts and the passion within them.
“What question do you have? May it wait so that I may allow you a more modest time?”
She laughed and dropped her arms to her sides, allowing herself also to sink in the water to her chin. “Does my nakedness bother you magician?”
“No in the least.” I lied.
Nimue grew serious again. “Will you teach me magic?”
I involuntarily stepped back. “What?”
She laughed again. “Will you teach me magic?”
“I’m teaching Morgan.”
“Can you not teach more than one pupil? Are your powers so complex?”
I became a little annoyed at her tone. “My magic is indeed complex child. Why do you wish to learn?”
“My mother was a woman of power, though she taught me nothing. I feel that I must have talent. Not using it would be a waste. Besides, the only thing my mother ever told me is that I have a great destiny. To learn magic may give me the skills to do something great, as I have no other true skills.”
I neglected to tell her the skills on display of a woman’s power over man she did not need to learn more of, she was a master already. Then I remembered the reason I had come to the lake anyway and wondered if I even had time for a student. I needed to think about it.
I said, “I cannot say currently if I may teach you, but if you truly wish to learn then come see me tonight after evening meal and I shall have an answer for you. Truth to tell, if you take to magic as you do the water, you should do well.”
Nimue laughed again, it was a wonderful sound. “I don’t know how to swim. I just stay in the shallows mostly.”
I frowned, as I hate to be wrong. “I see. Be careful getting out, there are dangers everywhere.”
With that, I turned and left, wrenching my thoughts away from the near animal frenzy of lust that had gripped me. It was not magic. It was not love. It was a longing for something else that was not Morgan.
Later that evening I was dining with Morgan. She was distracted by something, I knew not what. She had actually been distracted a lot during that time and would not answer my questions as to why.
“Is it almost time to invade Morgan?” I asked.
Morgan smiled. “Ever blunt Merlin, I like that. Not yet, though I won’t tell you when. I know you work with Arthur, so I need you here to keep an eye on you.”
I had never even considered that. It was chilling that I had missed it. Perhaps the months I had spent with her had lowered my guard. I internally vowed to be much more careful.
I decided to change the subject. “There is another Immortal in the camp, a young one that has not received the gift yet.”
Morgan nodded. “Nimue. She’s a lovely young girl and as her protector I have made it so she is safe here.”
“She wants to learn magic.”
Morgan laughed. “Well magician, you won’t teach me anything more, you might as well teach her. I have noticed that she holds a seed of power within her.”
“Why protect her as you have?”
“Really Merlin, do you know how hard it is to be a woman? Do you know how dangerous it is to be a woman and beautiful? She deserves a life free of fear to become the best she can be. Mortal and Immortal alike, we all deserve that. I am in the position to see it happens.”
I said, “Very commendable Morgan, why not the other women of the camp?”
Morgan laughed again. “The women of the camp are older and more experienced. They choose to follow. Nimue did not make that choice. That she asked you for knowledge proves that she is capable of rising above her current station.”
“I shall teach her then.”
“Good, she will do well. I must travel for a while and I leave tonight. No, I will not tell you where. I will be gone a month at most. As always, you are free to move about my camp. Even though I know you work for my enemy, I somehow trust you.”
I smiled. “Thank you Morgan, that means a lot. I believe I shall start Nimue’s training immediately then.”
* * *
Nimue arrived that evening in a gown fit for royalty. It hugged her every curve and showed her body to its greatest potential. I was in awe and almost forgot why she was there. Morgan had left on her mysterious journey and even though it occupied my mind greatly, I was even more greatly distracted by my prospective student.
“Good evening Nimue.” I said.
She curtsied as if I were the King. “Good evening magician.”
I tried to dismiss the effect her attire was having on me. “Not exactly what I would expect a student of magic to wear.”
Her smile was seductive. “Would you prefer something simpler?”
“Anything you are comfortable in.”
Her dress fell to the floor. “There, that is more comfortable.”
She was nineteen summers, I was over sixty though Immortal. I never had a prayer. She was in my arms in less time than it takes to draw breath. Lust overwhelmed me and I fell to it. Somewhere that night though, something else grew. It was not quite love for me, but it was far more than just lustful abandon. It would save my life.