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
Rain fell lightly on the pier and over the water. Duncan leaned against the rail and stared into the distance, focused on nothing. Confusion ruled him. From his first awareness and ever after, Duncan had maintained a faith in honor. His father and clan had taught him what honor was and how it was maintained. Hideo Koto and reinforced those teachings with eastern thought.
It didn’t matter who his teachers were or what he had learned. All that ran through his mind was knowing somewhere inside him that his honor was damaged. He had contemplated the possibility that Merlin had made an error, but he dismissed it because the magician had shown nothing but truth.
Three days had passed since the loss of his honor and he was no closer to solving it than he was in the back of the car for the drive to Bristol. He hadn’t spoken for the entire trip and kept to himself afterward. His soul hurt.
It had to be Merlin’s error. Duncan had always carefully guarded his honor with both his actions and his choices. But, to lay blame at the feet of the magician would be a sure violation of whatever honor he had left.
The presence invaded his thoughts and managed to rouse him from his staring. He turned and found Methos and Merlin standing a respectful distance away. Both Immortals wore concerned looks. Neither spoke though, which suited Duncan’s mood. He turned back to the rail and leaned on it with his elbows again.
“MacLeod.” said Methos.
“What?” He growled.
Methos stepped forward. “We have to figure this out. Mordred will find us. It’s a matter of time.”
Duncan barked a short laugh. “Well then, I guess he kills us. I couldn’t draw it. There’s not much else I can do then, now is there? Unless the whole problem is with Merlin’s magic.”
He almost spit the last word. It surprised him; the venom he was feeling. There was no other logical choice though. Duncan’s honor was more measurable than someone’s claim of magic. The logical side of his mind argued with him. Honor was no more measurable than magic if you depended on provable amounts.
Merlin asked, “Did you believe?”
Duncan replied, “I must have, I saw the sword. I could feel it wanting to be drawn. As Methos said, it was like grabbing a battery.”
Merlin nodded carefully. “Then there is nothing wrong with my magics.”
Duncan turned and stared at the magician for a long time and spread his arms in defeat. “Then I am not honorable enough. I don’t understand it, but that’s the only explanation left.”
Merlin eyes showed amazing sympathy. “Highlander, it’s not how honorable you are. It’s having true honor that allows you to draw the sword.”
“Then I guess I don’t have that either. Talk about insult to injury.”
Duncan turned back to the water and leaned on the rail again.
He heard a car drive up and a door open and close. He couldn’t muster the desire to even care. The water flowed and flowed, uncaring of anything other than moving along its allotted course. That echoed his mood to perfection.
Methos said, “Ah, you’re here.”
“So, the Merlin, eh?”
Duncan turned to see Joe examining Merlin. In turn, the magician studied Joe.
Merlin suddenly smiled and took Joe’s offered hand. “Yes, I am Merlin.”
Joe shook his head in amazement. “Wow, a legend standing before me. I suspected you might be more than a story, but never thought to speak with you. I am honored.”
Duncan felt something like a physical blow to his midsection. What could Joe know of honor? Even worse, to be questioning his friend’s honor, he diminished his own even more. A certain amount of despair began to creep up on him.
Methos interrupted the discussion between Joe and Merlin before it really could begin. “Joe, talk to him. You know him better than any of us. Help him, please.”
Joe nodded and moved toward Duncan, his smile disarming as always. Duncan could read volumes in Joe’s eyes though. It was a book even larger than the Chronicles of Methos. Joe may have known even more than Merlin. In Duncan’s crumbling world view, suddenly he felt humbled to be seen by Joe.
Merlin and Methos moved off, leaving the mortal and his Immortal friend to the water and the rain.
“It pretty damn near takes an act of God to have Methos call me to come talk to you. It takes even more for you to need someone else, much less a mortal. What the Hell happened MacLeod?”
Duncan turned back to the water, the only source of comfort he could find. “I don’t know Joe.”
“Well then, what did Merlin get wrong? He did get something wrong, right?”
“Only an Immortal of true honor can draw the sword Joe. I saw it. I saw Excalibur and it’s simply the most wonderful weapon I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I couldn’t move it a centimeter. I couldn’t draw it.”
Joe asked, “Because of the magic of Merlin?”
“It’s because of his magic that no one’s ever found the sword Joe. It’s because of his magic and my belief in it that I could even see it. No, it’s not the magic. The only things left are my Immortality and my honor. The Immortal part doesn’t go away.”
“Ouch. That must hurt pretty bad.”
Duncan smiled at the water. “You have no idea.”
“You’re still the most honorable guy I know Mac, Immortal and mortal alike. Doesn’t that count for something?”
“Apparently not. Then again, Merlin did say it’s not how honorable I am, but true honor.”
Joe cocked his head to the side. “Well what does that mean?”
“I have no idea. Ask Merlin. Ask Methos. They seem to be the ones with all the answers. The only good thing I see here is that they look as stumped as me.”
“I really wish Richie were around. His hare-brained ideas would be real welcome right about now.”
Duncan caught himself smiling, just a moment before all the pain came rushing back in. All the horrible, deep, soul rending pain tore at him, past all his carefully crafted defenses. The rain falling gently on the water masked the tears that fell from Duncan MacLeod.
“He’s never coming back Joe. I killed him, he’s dead.”
Duncan’s voice caught and even all of his iron will couldn’t force more voice through. More tears fell. Duncan stood and raised his head to the rain, letting it wash away the stains of his guilt and sorrow.
“And you can’t forgive yourself for the accident that it was?”
Duncan whirled on his mortal friend. “It was no damn accident Joe! I thought he was Kronos, or half a dozen others. I thought it was Ahriman!”
Joe grabbed his friend’s coat at the arm and shook it once, hard. “You were blinded by the demon’s lies. It wasn’t your fault!”
“My sword Joe! My sword went through Richie’s neck. I swung that sword. I killed him! Not Ahriman, not Kronos and not the god damned tooth fairy. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod killed Richie. My sword, my responsibility!”
Joe was quiet for a long time. When he spoke, it was barely a whisper.
“Which is why you have no true honor. To learn the path of honor, one must learn to forgive. To learn the path of forgiveness, one must first learn to forgive themselves.”
“I can’t Joe. I just can’t. I won’t.”
* * *
Merlin looked on in sadness. They had not moved too far away.
The magician said, “I am a fool.”
Methos looked at him. “Why do you say that?”
“It was so obvious the look on his face when I told him of Nimue. The wound I inadvertently opened scarred his soul. That he even functions to keep in the Game is beyond my ability to even imagine.”
Methos shrugged. “Richie was special to him. He annoyed Duncan to distraction. He broke whatever rules he could get away with. He didn’t listen. All those things, and yet there was something very special about him.”
Merlin nodded. “I begin to understand. There are those in one’s lifetime that transcend all others. We can be only lucky enough to experience it.”
“Like you and Nimue?”
Merlin nodded again. “Yes.”
“I’ve had that too, for a mortal though. She meant everything to me and I would gladly have given my head could she have survived.”
Merlin smiled. “All this talk we’ve had about magic and it’s the truth that love is the strongest of all. Our friend Duncan no doubt has loved many in his life, but I think this Richie was as close to a brother as he could ever have.”
Methos chuckled. “Polar opposites. Why they didn’t kill each other sooner is beyond me.”
It was the magician’s turn to chuckle. “As brothers are wont to be my good Arthur. It is in true brotherhood that you learn who you are. It is in true brotherhood that you learn what you can be. You have given me an idea.”
Methos looked at Merlin. “I did?”
Merlin clapped him on the shoulder. “Yes you have. A splendid idea is occurring to me. First though, I need to know something.”
The magician sighed. “Tell me everything you know about Richie.”