For the next few 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
The early evening sun painted a fiery red and orange tapestry across the western sky. The rain had cleared out and the chilly clear air was as stark as a polished mirror before it’s shattered into a million pieces. Shafts of sunlight, low to the ground, lit the Megalithic structure, almost igniting it in stunning clarity. High above Stonehenge, the first stars began to appear, twinkling like hard diamonds on a deep blue cloth.
Duncan MacLeod missed it all. He stalked towards the Pilot Stone, willing the sword to appear to him. Anger pounded inside him like the Bering Sea on the shores of the Aleutian Islands before a rampaging storm. He had been a complete idiot. He had actually allowed himself to be dishonorable by trying to be too honorable. It would be enough to set Plato’s head spinning.
Inwardly, he was seething at himself; boiling over in his own thoughts at his own stupidity. Outwardly though, he was cold and hard, like the stars hanging in the clear air so far above.
Merlin stepped next to him, followed by Methos and lagged behind by Joe. “So the plan as I see it is to collect the sword and then find the most advantageous place for you to meet Mordred.”
Duncan did not pause. “Sounds good to me. He’s long overdue my attention and I want my sword back.”
The three Immortals gathered at the stone. Excalibur was there again, gleaming in the failing light. Duncan felt drawn to it again, felt its need to be released from the prison of cold stone that held it.
They turned to find Joe reverently looking at the weapon jutting from the stone. The man’s eyes were wide with obvious astonishment. Methos stepped aside, allowing Joe to move up to the stone.
Merlin examined Joe for a bit. “I feel I have underestimated you. I have not released the enchantment that hides it from most everyone. Yet, you can still see it.”
Joe reached and reverently touched the hilt. “Yeah, well don’t sell us mortals short. We were here before you and will likely be here after.”
Methos furrowed his brow. “What about that last of us ruling the mortals?”
Joe chuckled and turned away from the stone and headed towards the car again. “You can rule a people for so long before they overthrow you. As long as Watcher’s records exist, you really don’t have immortality.”
Merlin nodded and turned back to MacLeod. “Your friend is a wise man.”
Duncan did not respond. His gaze was locked on the sword. He felt the need to be connected to it. He wanted it.
Methos said, “Take it MacLeod.”
Richie had been right. Duncan knew his honor was intact. He was again the Immortal he had always been. He was a warrior, a protector and a teacher. He was of sound mind and body again. More importantly, he was of sound soul and drive. He almost pitied Mordred. There was still enormous anger in him, but it was controlled, filling the tiny portion of him where he had crammed the despair over Richie.
Duncan reached up to the glowing hilt and grasped it firmly. He would finally have peace to mourn. He would finish this crisis and mourn his student and friend. He would take the time to refocus his self to battle his own demons.
He quieted his racing thoughts, released a cleansing breath and pulled on the sword. It didn’t move. Panic gripped him and he tugged harder. The blade remained in the rock and he felt the sword resisting him.
Then the feeling washed over him of another Immortal. He turned his head and saw Mordred coming. Merlin and Methos moved off between Duncan and his enemy. Duncan turned back to Excalibur and pulled again. Tears threatened his eyes and he nearly whimpered.
He threw is head back and cried out. “Richie! I can’t do this!”
A gentle voice tickled the back of his head. “Listen to Joe.”
Mordred was calmly walking through the confines of Stonehenge. Duncan’s feverish gaze swept across the structure and fell on his mortal friend. Joe stood stock still, staring back at him.
The words came crashing through his head. The words Joe had said on the docks of Bristol harbor. To learn the path of honor, one must learn to forgive. To learn the path of forgiveness, one must first learn to forgive themselves.
He had forgiven himself for Richie’s death. He was at peace knowing that Richie did not blame him at all for Duncan’s action. His honor had to be intact. Mordred had taken more steps and was only scant yards away.
Duncan forced himself to calmness. He had never allowed himself to panic and was certainly not going to start now. He focused himself on his center, on finding his true self.
Mordred slowed. His easy smile aimed directly at MacLeod. He reached inside his coat and withdrew his flamberge. The wavy blade glinted in the now dimming light. Duncan felt that dimming was his chances at surviving as well. He tugged on Excalibur again and again it didn’t move.
Merlin and Methos were huddled together, discussing fiercely, though quietly. Joe stood near the tall structures of Stonehenge and gazed almost passively at Duncan. The mortal was his best friend, though he was also mortal, and would do his duty and observe only.
But Duncan knew Richie had forgiven him. MacLeod’s soul and honor was clean. Why couldn’t he draw the sword? What other attribute was he missing?
Mordred turned to the other two Immortals and sneered at them. He was enjoying himself.
Joe shouted to him. “Mac, it’s not about Richie! It’s about you!”
Richie had said that hundreds of times in his life that MacLeod could remember. This memory though was powerful. Duncan took a deep cleansing breath and let go of Excalibur. He closed his eyes and took another breath in. He knew now.
“I killed my student. I grieve. I am not at fault. Trying to protect you from harm drew you into a design that doomed you. I will remember you Richie. Ahriman killed you to get to me. He has been punished. I have been punished. I killed my friend, but I am still alive. I will fight to survive. I forgive myself for the guilt I have shackled myself with. I am free. I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod and will not allow my friend’s honorable sacrifice to be tarnished.”
Duncan felt a great weight lift from his shoulders. All the rage and pain from Richie’s death flowed out of him and he was suddenly focused. There was no more anger within him, only cold calculation. He turned back to Excalibur and felt joy. The sword called to him.
Mordred raised his sword and shouted at the sky. “I challenge you! I challenge the King of England to a final battle!”
Methos stepped back as Mordred stepped forward, grinning menacingly. “Once more we cross swords my king, but this time there will be a different outcome. I swear it.”
“He is not your king. I am.”
Mordred whirled around. Duncan stood next to the Pilot Stone, firmly gripping Excalibur and feeling it sing in his soul. He could do anything with this sword. They were bonded. He strode towards Mordred, feeling an ache for battle. Excalibur may have been created, never needing to be used, but it wanted to be used. How Methos had fought that need Duncan couldn’t guess.
Mordred pointed his sword at MacLeod. “You are not the King!”
Duncan waved his free hand at the Pilot Stone. “Read the words Mordred. He who draws this blade shall be king of England. I drew the sword. I am King. All those years of war and conflict and the only thing we Scots needed to do was draw a bloody sword. It’s sad really.”
The intense eyes widened until Duncan thought Mordred’s head would explode. He felt good and loose. He was ready for a fight, but not here, not at Stonehenge.
Mordred managed to get his control back. “Fine, I will not argue your stupid little ploy. Once I kill you, I can still kill him. Are you ready to die Highlander?”
Duncan shook his head. “We can’t fight here. This is holy ground.”
Mordred spit laughter back at him. “This run down relic? This is a damned calendar. Druids worship here, but it’s not holy ground.”
He suddenly rushed forward, raising his flamberge overhead and charged at Duncan. MacLeod stepped forward and deflected the coming blow. He whirled with Mordred passing and snapped Excalibur towards his foe. The shining silver tip of the legendary weapon reached just far enough to catch Mordred’s side as he passed. Duncan pulled the sword back and began to jog backward towards the heavy stones. As he shucked his coat off, he saw the blood on Excalibur’s steel.
Mordred stopped and felt his side. The wound was minor at best, but he was wounded. He turned his head to Duncan and snarled with growing hatred.
“I don’t know how you did that Highlander. I may not be invulnerable to you now, but I don’t need to be either.”
Duncan readied himself for the next charge, but Mordred instead walked towards him and engaged. The attacks were dizzying and ferocious. Duncan knew the instant their blades touched that he was going to lose. Mordred was even better now than at the church. His talent with a sword was godlike.
Still, Duncan fought, blocking and deflecting so much that he rarely, if ever, pressed forward. He dodged between the huge stones, keeping Mordred moving and always with an obstacle close at hand. Even with that strategy, Duncan was quickly covered in minor wounds of his own.
He considered the sword in his hand, the legendary Excalibur and felt the power within it. He willed it to help him in any way it could. He felt energy suffuse him. Mordred was mildly surprised when Duncan suddenly went on the offensive, pushing his opponent back. The surprise lasted only moments and again Duncan was losing badly. He felt like the amateur he had been when he had entered Consone’s studio so many years before. He felt as Richie must have felt having to train with Duncan.
Thoughts of Richie brought a spike of anger to him and he again took the offensive. He paid the price of more cuts and nicks, but he managed to get inside Mordred’s guard. Duncan brought his off hand up into Mordred’s face and felt the nose shatter under the heel of his hand. Mordred staggered backward, blood smearing across his mouth. Duncan followed, bringing Excalibur up, around and across Mordred’s chest. The other immortal leaped backward, but only after acquiring a long shallow cut from his shoulder to his sternum.
Before Duncan could press his advantage though, Mordred returned the favor by stepping in quickly and savagely elbowing Duncan in the throat. MacLeod turned with the blow and ran backward, giving himself room to maneuver and time to recover. Mordred stayed right with him though. Duncan knew his time was close; the other Immortal was just too good. Even Duncan’s incredible will and formidable talents would fail as they almost had with Grayson.
Joe called out to him. “The crystals are the key Mac!”
Of course! Mordred himself said the crystals controlled his ability. Duncan grinned at his opponent, causing Mordred to hesitate. The first time Mordred had attacked, he’d been a novice. At the church, he’d gotten progressively better. If the stones controlled the ability with a sword, then it could be that a change of weapons would change the ability.
Duncan knew he couldn’t survive much longer. The only way to survive was to run, or to trick Mordred. Running was out of the question; that much was certain. However, to trick Mordred might be easier, though if he was wrong it would spell disaster. It didn’t matter much anyway. Mordred was only toying with him.
Duncan dropped into his stance that he hadn’t seen in many years. Mordred crept up on him, curiosity fighting against his obvious rage. Then MacLeod launched his last offensive. He leveled Excalibur and used Walter Reinhardt’s misdirection move to confuse Mordred. The Immortal took the bait, or the crystals did and Mordred was wide open. Duncan lunged forward and nearly skewered Mordred. The other Immortal skipped backward to reset himself, but Duncan stayed with him and forced the flamberge up.
Mordred attacked as Duncan had planned, coming overhead in a massive chop. Duncan set himself, took the blade on his own and then swept into Annie’s signature move. Time slowed to a crawl. Duncan’s blade skipped up and around the flamberge, not hopping over the waves of steel as Duncan had feared. The swords ever so briefly locked and then the flamberge flew out of Mordred’s hand and away. It stuck upright in the ground at Joe’s feet.
Duncan wanted to shout in triumph, but only backed away to rest a bit. Even with the energy Excalibur was feeding him, he was exhausted. Joe grabbed the flamberge with his free hand and jerked it from the ground.
Mordred screamed at him. “You can’t interfere!”
Joe merely grinned back. “Sure I can. We mortals operate on a different set of rules.”
With that phrase, Joe tossed the sword away, into the darkness. Mordred lost whatever semblance of control he had left and screamed again, a loud, primitive howl of rage and frustration. Duncan let him continue because it let him rest more.
Suddenly, Mordred stopped his cry and turned back to MacLeod. “It doesn’t matter really, I have another weapon.”
“I suppose you do.”
Mordred reached inside his coat and pulled Duncan’s katana from within. With a shrug of his thin shoulders, Mordred shucked off his coat and advanced towards Duncan again.
Duncan stood and readied himself. If he was wrong, he would die quickly. Mordred raised the katana high and advanced again and Duncan saw it. Mordred’s feet were placed wrong for the Japanese weapon. The angle of the blade was wrong too, as if some child had picked up the weapon and tried to simulate what he’d seen in a movie.
“Give up Mordred. You can’t win.”
“I will be King!”
Mordred slashed downward with the katana and Duncan barely moved. He ran Mordred through the chest. The Immortal’s whispered cry of pain was lost on the night air. Duncan put his shoulder to Mordred and pushed him back, jerking Excalibur free as he did. Mordred fell to his knees.
“A true King has honor Mordred. A true King cares for his subjects more than himself. Arthur was the only true King of England. Him and him alone. He was the one and there can be only one.”
Duncan stepped into his strike and cleaved through Mordred’s neck. As the body fell to the ground, Mordred’s hand opened and the crystals fell out. Duncan turned towards them and the Quickening took him. Searing bolts of electricity roared through the confines of Stonehenge, caressing the megalithic structure and slamming into the Highlander’s body without remorse. In his mind’s eye he saw the dojo again. Richie was whistling and applauding as hard as he could. Next to his student, Consone was beaming with pride, applauding as well.
Wave after wave of energy hammered into Duncan until he felt his head would explode. Excalibur was above him, bringing all the energy into him. A light show of unbelievable energy raged across the night. Thunder was heard across the green lands of England.
And with a mighty roar of victory, the Quickening ended and Duncan collapsed to the ground. It was over.