Four faces flicked
nervously toward the elevator as its motors came to life. Duncan
was more sedate in his response as he looked across from his position
facing the pale visages. Harry and Naomi were talking a little
now, explaining the big issues that Richie had omitted, and he
had to admit that he was impressed by their story. Three child
Immortals still alive, let alone in the same place was remarkable
enough, but the description of their sister was something that
he wouldn't have believed if it hadn't been for the events of
earlier. The fire he'd seen in Richie's eyes had told him a little
about the power of innocence this child had over her protectors,
and even in description he could experience her being through
the emotions of her siblings.
Feeling at somewhat
of a loss in his present position, the Highlander had turned to
information gathering, and most of all questioning his guests.
Plied with food and hot drinks, the two eldest forms, who were
in fact the two youngest, seemed to have gathered their wits and
had begun to talk to the Scot after a couple of impromptu stories
from him. Information had gone backwards and forwards; Naomi seemed
quite interested in Richie and his relationship with her host,
Harry was interested in tales of the Immortal's past which seemed
to take his mind off his watchful situation. Through it all, Duncan
gained an adequate picture of the close family and their past
twenty years at the convent.
Now it was time for
some more data to be gleaned, but from a different source, and
about a less tasteful topic. Duncan stood as Joe slid up the elevator
gate, a wadge of papers under his arm, he did not look happy.
MacLeod," the man greeted, cynicism at the early hour in
"Thanks for coming,
Joe," the Immortal returned waving him into the room and
moving to the counter, "Coffee?"
The watcher nodded
and took a few steps into the apartment; he stopped as his eyes
found the four frozen bodies on the sofa. Enquiry in his manner,
he turned to his friend, an eyebrow raised. The Highlander chose
quickly to explain what, in his urgency on the phone, he had left
"Joe, this is
Naomi, Harry, Garion and Tay," Duncan introduced, grabbing
the coffee pot, "they're part of the reason I need the information
on Gervace Hemar."
The name inspired such
looks of fear in the younger forms that Mac made a decision before
"Naomi, how about
cleaning your brothers up," the dark figure advised softly,
"there are towels and plenty of hot water in the bathroom."
The message was understood,
she nodded silently and gathered her small band around her. The
men watched the group disappear, and as soon as the door was closed,
Joe opened his mouth to get some answers. Duncan silenced him
with a wave of a mug and indicating to the vacated sitting area,
disclosed, "Take a seat and I'll explain as much as I know."
The mortal's face was
set in familiar, what-have-you-gotten-me-into, mode as his companion
sat down opposite and held out a cup of steaming liquid. Taking
the offered appeasement, the man waited.
"Those three boys
are Immortals," Mac admitted, and the watcher glanced over
towards the door in disbelief; the Immortal's response was ready,
"I know, I couldn't believe it when I felt them either. Well,
Richie and Patrick Lyonaise, the Immortal who's been looking after
them, left me with them; they've both gone after Hemar, who has
taken the smallest girl, Annie."
Joe's face was grave
as he took in the words; his manner did not make Duncan feel any
better about having stayed behind. He took the papers that his
comrade held out. Dawson spoke with concern as he revealed, "I
did the research you wanted, and what I've found isn't nice. Gervace
Hemar is one sick bastard, who's been practising his particular
brand of sadism on weaker Immortals since the fifteenth century.
His MO is to challenge them, kill them in the fight and then he
considers that he's won. It gets messy after that, the twisted
animal ties them up, takes his time with a wide range of tortures
until he's satisfied he's broken them, and then he takes their
Alarm daggered through
the older Immortal as he considered the fate that could possibly
be waiting for his pupil. His worry showed as he questioned urgently,
"How good is he?"
The news was not good.
"Hemar was trained
as a knight by the Lord who made him his ward," the bearded
face showed anxiety as the news left his lips; his tone was bleak
as he explained, "from what the records say, it was Daddy
who taught Gervace all his tricks. Hemar the elder was lord over
one of the German laender in the fourteen hundreds, and Vlad The
Impaler had nothing on him. He taught his heir so well that at
sixteen, the boy became tired of waiting for him to die and so
killed him and took over.
As for Patrick Lyonaise,
there's a BIG connection between them. Gervace was killed at the
age of twenty nine and started out on the Game with enthusiasm.
He used his kingdom as a power base and source of income as he
indulged his sick pleasures. Patrick heard about him and took
a dislike to his attitude to mortals as well as Immortals. He
was a brilliant fighter and Hemar, who was only about fifty at
the time, had to run to save his head. They met about a century
later and Patrick nearly took his head once more. Gervace has
never forgiven him for either incident."
Duncan ran his hands
through his hair as every word churned his insides up a bit more.
"Please tell me
Patrick's still a good swordsman," the Highlander almost
begged, his manner tense in the extreme.
Sadly, Joe shook his
head and answered, "Our records show that he gave up fighting
about two centuries ago, we thought the reason was a woman with
whom he settled down for about forty years. We lost track of him
when he moved very suddenly from England when she died and this
is the first we've heard of him since."
The Scot gained his
feet and began to pace as scenarios he didn't like ran through
his head. There was no question of him staying out of this one
now. Whether Richie ever forgave him for interfering, or not,
the Highlander was not going to sit by, nurse-maiding children
while his close friend walked into such a danger. It didn't seem
likely that Hemar was going to play fair, considering that he'd
already taken a hostage; it was time for some backup. His visage
set in a grimace of purpose, MacLeod asked urgently, "What
information have you on Hemar now?"
"He's been up
in the mountains in the last few weeks, organising something,
that's all we know, nothing exact. His watcher has had to be careful,
there was a concern that he suspected something," the mortal
shrugged with a sense of apology about him.
"Richie met him
while training," Duncan mused, thinking aloud, "if I
start there, he won't be far away."
The Highlander was
a blur of activity as he grabbed his coat and sword from the bed
and headed rapidly to the door. He paused at the hat stand, and
turned to his comrade as he remembered his guests.
he asked of his companion.
waved him on, his own concern for the young Immortal showing in
his manner, "I'll look after them."
Duncan needed no more
assurance, he was gone in a second, the door slamming behind him.
Richie came round slowly,
his world being first one of dull pain and colours. Groaning,
the young man sat up, starting in discomfort as he bashed his
head on the steering-wheel. Sight cleared momentarily, and he
moaned once more as his vision shifted. He had been laid across
the front seats of the car, and the position had been awkward
judging from the ache in his limbs. Putting a hand to feel encrusted
blood at the back of his head, the youth tried to focus on his
watch. In the dimness, he made out the fact that it had been almost
half an hour since they had stopped. The urgency of the situation
came back as the passing of action without him snapped Ryan from
his daze. Swearing and angry at Patrick's actions, but most of
all worried for the Immortal who he knew had no chance against
Hemar, the fighter scrambled from the car. Once more, his hand
clasped around his sword, which had been placed carefully over
the pedals, and Immortal purpose possessed his being. There was
no more time for meditating on the facts, it was time for action.
The youth was a perfectly composed creature, his body in tune
with his mind once more as he turned rapidly up the track. There
was hazard in the air as the unusual man began his hunt.
His movements were
even, controlled as the Immortal began to jog easily up the track.
There was a lightness to his feet as he traversed ground in the
dark, that in the daylight would have tripped someone less aware.
His stride was not as free as it would have been in sweats, as
his muscles pumped against the stiffer denim, and the boots held
back perfect contact with the ground, but there was no doubt that
an athlete was gliding towards his destination. Eyes scanned ahead,
through the trees, watching for anything that didn't fit with
the midnight world. It was a supernatural place in the darkness;
Richie had been out here with the light on his bike giving him
manmade vision while he enjoyed the freedom, but this was the
eternal Ryan, closer to nature by means of his training, and he
didn't want, or need artificial interference to know the wilds
about him. There were powers out in the depth of the woods that
mortals would never experience, a beat of life flowed through
the young man as he called upon his instincts at their keenest,
a drumming in his ears that told him creation knew him for what
he was, even if human eyes could not see. He was alone, totally
without walls of man, but there was something beside him all the
way, a dangerous spirit pulling him on towards the fight. This
was his true place, solitary, powerful, hunting. At that moment,
it didn't matter what the reasons were, what incident had started
his quest, as the strength of wilderness flowed into him, a strange
drug heightened his senses and took away reality; Ryan was smiling,
a grimace of energy and euphoria.
The young Immortal
could have taken on a universe with the illusion of the night
beating his heart, but reality bites. The youth froze, nearly
stumbling over at the sudden change in his mood as his eyes fell
on a cabin about a hundred yards ahead in the trees. Tension replaced
the relaxed power as he remembered the horrors of the day and
the rationale that had brought him to this place. Richie felt
his heart in his throat as adrenaline pumped through his system;
Patrick and Annie were in that place, he couldn't feel them yet,
but he knew. However, there was Hemar to deal with once he moved
out of the protection of the trees. Would he be watching? - Probably
not, he was expecting Patrick, not the 'easy Quickening'. Was
Patrick fighting him now? - There was no sounds of battle. Taking
a deep breath, and trying to gather up the focus that had scattered
with the real world's return, Richie put a foot towards his destination;
now was no time to begin letting fear and doubts take over.
A shrill, desperate
scream cut the air around the young man; it was a cold, terrified
sound which conveyed so much. Annie was the source, the youth
recognised her tones distorted with horror though they were. Pain
at the anguish in the sound coupled with alarm daggered through
the alert figure, and with a start, the Immortal was running to
save his little one. Feet were air-light once more, body poised
as need brought back the skill his training demanded. Richard
Ryan crashed through the front door, sword raised and features
set into challenge. The scene before him was not pretty.
There had been a Quickening
here, the wooden interior was broken and only one oil lamp out
of three was still in one piece. In the flickering orange light,
the timeless youth made out a destruction which flared anger and
sorrow in his heart; there was a body on the floor, even headless,
it was recognisable as Captain Patrick Lyonaise. His strength
was gone as the bulk lay limply on the floor, not even the vague
'unlife', that held Immortals between temporary death and resurrection,
giving him promise of return. His friend cried out in rage as
his soul told him that others of his own kind were still alive
here. The murmur on his skull was a painful thing as he knew that
the old soldier was not part of it. Wild eyes fell on his adversary;
what he was about instilled even more fury in the young Immortal.
Annie was stood by a cupboard in which, it appeared, she had been
held during the events which had passed some minutes earlier;
her small form was trembling and the scream had been for her father,
whose corpse transfixed her pale, distraught face. Hemar was stood
over her helpless form, his sword held high, ready to swing at
her neck. His motion ready, the presence of another could not
stop the assassin from his task. With a glance at his 'guest',
a grin on his face, the tall figure sliced down.
yelled and moved before rational thought told him he was running
towards a razor-sharp blade.
Annie screamed once
more in terror as the larger body contacted with hers and swept
her out of the way. The youth was sensible enough to try and dodge
the swipe which was level with his waist, but his momentum did
not move him out of range. A spasm of ripping agony gripped his
body as he pushed the child towards the door and he coughed heavily.
Salt filled his mouth and Ryan choked on his own blood as the
weapon sliced through his internal organs. He hunched over, and
the rapier fell from his hand as his limbs trembled with agony.
Ice rushed up and down his spine, and his vision spun impossibly.
Death was a familiar foe, and the beleaguered being recognised
it with resignation. It was not an issue that the stroke had been
fatal, the world was red with his life and Richie staggered sideways
as it began to move away. Yet, there was still a task at hand;
he had promised that a child would survive, and there was little
chance of that if his enemy was able to chase her.
ordered weakly with a voice that was full of his death, he couldn't
see the tiny form, but he knew she was still close by.
There was not much
left for Richard Ryan, his death was approaching fast, and the
proximity of Hemar told him that his Quickening would follow;
what was still there was the innocence of a young face which had
smiled at him and trusted. A last moment of clarity focused the
youth's mind, and, Penelope-Anne in his thoughts, he used his
final energy to push himself at his killer. As darkness enfolded
him, Richie felt his weight topple a complaining Immortal, a small
satisfaction filled his soul as his task was accomplished.
The Highlander was
a dark figure in the wilderness as he entered the peaceful clearing
that he knew so well. This place conjured content memories of
physical exertions, he had enjoyed training his pupil here in
the calm of the wilds. The Richie he nearly always saw, slightly
manic, some scheme in his thoughts would calm down here and become
the fighter. There had been moments when the Scot had been unnerved
by what he helped to create, when the look in his protege's eyes
had spoken of the such dedication to the spirit that he'd wondered
if he was still on the same planet, let alone aware that he was
wielding a lethal blade. They had both changed here, one as he
learnt to kill with cool focus, the other as he realised that
he had managed to instil such skills in his friend. There had
been ups and downs in the relationship, when teacher had turned
away from tutee, and the other way around, but always they had
come back together drawn by the bond of camaraderie, similar to
that which Duncan still recognised between Connor and himself.
MacLeod knew as he stood in the darkness that life would never
be the same again if Richard Ryan disappeared from it - he was
more than just another Immortal friend, he was someone who shared
Tessa's memory, who had grown and matured under his watchful eye.
He would not lose him now, not so soon, nor in such a terrible
The tracker in him
coming through, the Clansman began to scour the clearing for any
sign of Hemar's entrance to it. An Immortal with four hundred
years behind him was a fearsome sight as he moved, catlike and
silent through the grass; it was obvious from whom Richie gained
his techniques as the form echoed the same strengths, but here
there was a maturity that the younger lacked. Duncan MacLeod,
the Highlander, his instincts honed and directed at a task which
could possibly mean life or death for a comrade, he was formidable.
of Part 5