Richie started as he
felt the first touch of electricity running up his arm; if it
had been possible, he would have rejected the bolt. He whimpered
under his breath, a child lost in the horror of his own actions
and then he shook again as it came stronger and more definite.
Suddenly, his body erupted in light and excruciating pain; he
screamed. His flesh shook and his thoughts scattered as the inheritance
made him pay for its power. Yet Tomas in death was as strange
as in life and the Quickening touched the young man in ways he
had not expected. He fell to his knees, the physical force as
suddenly as it had arrived, becoming insignificant; he froze in
the kneeling position, the energy around him causing a spasm so
great his trembling was almost invisible. He was held by a force
far stronger than anything he had felt before, and the only thing
the helpless Immortal could do was surrender to it. It was only
moments and then his head bowed and he crumpled over himself as
his mind exploded. Memory returned, hard and fast and with it
the knowledge of his opponents in the lost months that he had
There had been three
Immortals who had stood against Richard Ryan and he saw them as
the lightening separated him from the real world:
First had been Noah
Guthry, a man apparently in his forties, but a traveller on the
road since 1813. His way was simple, he lived alone and fought
any Immortal he chanced upon on his journey. He had met his young
opponent on a wooded road in an uncertain part of the country
and had laid the challenge. He had no regrets when he had fallen
to the swifter blade.
The streaks of energy
dragged the man's image away, but he would not be forgotten again,
a creature of honour and simple lore, Ryan screamed for him, not
with guilt, but respect for an equal. The lightening danced again,
penetrating his soul as well as his body and he was shown his
A half wild, dusty
figure had walked into the diner of the small town, his movements
weary, his need for food and a bed. He had found neither. The
local boys had decided that the silent youth at the breakfast
bar was fair game and they had missed the danger in his eyes when
they had begun to dig. His lack of response to their impertinent
inquiries had only fuelled their fire and their confidence at
being three against one kept them on his back. It hadn't taken
much to spark the feral nature that was controlling the crazed
Immortal, and one of the young men had fallen to an efficient
swipe before the other two had seen him move. There would have
been more blood on the Bakerlite counter if it hadn't been for
the approach of another Eternal. Kirrel had walked in the door,
a tall, broad man in farmer's overalls and even the mortals had
stopped their planned attack. These people were afraid of the
steel-eyed Immortal, and the huge man brought silence to the diner.
Ryan could feel the fear in the air, almost taste it and he saw
the dread in people's eyes. He had no idea what this being was
to these people, but his gut told him it was not benevolent. There
was a hardness about the solitary local, an edge that had not
been put there by his Immortal existence, but by his will, and
he lorded it over the subdued residents. The young men backed
away from their victim, quickly aware that a new interest was
on him; the youth felt almost like a prize being relinquished
by subordinate dogs to their leader. He didn't like this cruel-eyed
man, his instinct screamed at him that he was evil; there was
no fear in the bright blue irises which met the grey steel gaze.
They had exchanged names and the challenged had been understood,
there was no worry about what the cowering residents would think,
they would not miss either an itinerant youth or the bully it
was obvious he faced. An hour later in a secluded field, Ryan
had taken his Quickening.
Richie gritted his
teeth against the scream that was in his throat, even in recollection,
the nasty edge to Kirrel made him defiant and angry. Only one
person had spoken to him on his return to the town to fetch his
bike, an old woman had told him about the man he'd killed. He'd
been bleeding the residents for twenty years, a `protector' and
she'd suspected there was more to him than met the eye. She'd
thanked him for whatever he'd done, she didn't want to know what,
only be satisfied that Kirrel was gone. It was the sun-coloured,
relieved face that the youth wanted to keep in his head rather
than the bitter grimace of his opponent. Yet, neither remained
very long as they were buffeted aside by the storm in his psyche.
The young man cried
out, tears in his eyes as the last remembrance hit him all at
once and he again knew betrayal.
Finally there had been
Tanith, a feminine voice and a supple body next to his in his
cold world. His loneliness had been acute by the time the wild
Immortal had found himself in the rolling hills of Wales. Late
September had been warm and he'd taken the chance of a beautiful
afternoon to rest by the side of a large reservoir in the middle
of nowhere. He'd even taken a swim. The youth had been alone,
safe, only his bike and the wildlife for company, a chance to
regain a little strength to continue his flight from his torment;
he rarely slept at night now, it was easier to travel then and
less people got in his way. Then she'd come striding over
the hill. Her eyes had flared at his half-naked appearance after
the dip, but more so at the raw edge to his psyche, the growl
in his throat as he'd rolled smoothly to standing from where he
had been dozing. She hadn't been beautiful in the classical sense,
but the woman had oozed sexuality and an obvious wont to use it.
She had little time for words, and found him the same, a greeting,
a curl of the lips on her part, a deep breath on his as he'd let
her approach and she'd been very forward.
They'd stayed together
in her cottage for two days, forty eight intense, exotic, powerful
hours when the world outside had not mattered. Yet, Tanith badly
misjudged her young lover; their last night as he `dozed' beside
her she took a knife form under the bed and tried to bring it
down in his heart. If she had thought a quick smile and a helpless
gasp at his touch had created trust in the feral being, she was
very wrong, and he had never slept beside her. There were
no second chances in his reality - swords were drawn and he had
felt her Quickening.
Three Immortals, three
answers - there was the beginning of peace in the exhausted Eternal's
eyes as they clouded white. As the last few crackles of energy
moved around him, he stared straight ahead, arms out-stretched,
body reluctant to relax after such convulsions. He saw nothing
and felt nothing, everything was numb for those few seconds as
the tumult ceased. Then he blinked, and Tomas' touch was gone
from the surface, his eyes shone a damp blue, tired and with a
new knowledge in them. The old mystic was in him, more than just
another Quickening, less than an out and out influence, but the
young man felt him. The return of memory was the foetal beginnings
of the healing he needed, and it was a relief-filled sigh that
escaped his lips as he collapsed.
Duncan fell forward
and grabbed the banister for support as Garret's Quickening died
away. His movements disoriented, he gazed up the stairs to the
slightly open door above him; there was no blue light, no sound,
it was over, and absolute silence rang in his ears.
Adam lowered his paper
as he felt the approach of his friends to the cafe table. He squinted
up against the wintry sunshine and smiled at the figures walking
side by side.
he greeted warmly, waving them to the seats he had waiting. "How's
the bailing out going?"
The Seine had flooded
as usual and this time the barge had taken on water.
"He's done nothing
but grumble for the last two days," the blond youth answered,
patting his taller comrade on the back and grinning broadly as
they sat down, "I didn't know he could be such an old grouch."
The wonky, endearing
smile was a sight for sore eyes. It had been four weeks since
the entrance of The Savage into Paris and the ancient was glad
to see more healing in him everyday. Richie had recovered well,
an understanding of Tomas' motives having come with the Quickening.
There was still the occasional wildness in his eyes, the tell
of something extra that had not been there before, the feral edge
that would not disperse. Yet it was a side of him that was necessary,
it had opened his mind to his dreams, and as much as the practical
youth denied it in the cold light of day, he had taken over from
the old mystic, in a less dramatic way, but the spark was there.
The researcher looked forward to seeing the flame in a few hundred
"Well, I only
just got it sorted out after Cassim's arson attack," the
Scot moaned, waving an easy hand at the tease in the blue eyes.
Methos laughed at the
relaxed banter between his companions, that had been a little
time in reasserting itself. Duncan had adjusted to his new role
in his pupil's life, he could no longer be the father, but he
could be the friend, and Methos saw bonds between the two men
that were even closer, though different, than before. Duncan MacLeod
of the Clan MacLeod, warrior, proud, honourable, Richie's loss
had hurt him badly and there was an old strength back in his manner
with the reforming of old ties. There were few times in an Immortal
life where links became so strong that they challenged the clear
rules of the Game, but as he watched them, the ancient knew that
here was one such relationship. Only one seemed a ludicrous concept.
"You can always
stay on my floor until the barge is dry again," Adam offered
smoothly and enjoyed the feeling of camaraderie that it gave him.
The old man missed
Tomas, it had been hard closing the house and disbanding his entourage,
but he had to admit that he'd never felt more belonging than he
did with his present companions. His ancient friend had shown
him a pathway, and he had walked it for a long time, but now he
was part of a new road and it felt right.
"Me casa es su
casa," he finished sincerely.
Of Part 6