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Innocence and Justice by Sophie
There is a sequel to this story which can be found at :
Heaven Sent

 

Part 5

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.

"Morning, MacLeod," the man greeted, cynicism at the early hour in his tone.

"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 out.

"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 he continued.

"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 heads."

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.

"The Kids?" he asked of his companion.

"Go!" Joe 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.

"No!" Richie 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.

"Run," he 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 way.

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.

End of Part 5