But he was our leader, how
can he betray us like that? the young mans
voice sounded small and almost lost.
It was as if he was trying to comprehend
something that just wiped away his courage.
He didnt betray us,
Sian an older man in the group of five said sadly,
if he had we would all be in *her* dungeons. She
has him under some kind of spell. I was in court today
and there was no recognition in his eyes when he looked
at me. Its like hes not the same person
That drew them all to silence, and
a quiet settled over what would have been to most, a
very peculiar gathering of men. They ranged from the
grey haired, noble man who had spoken, to a meanly dressed,
blond individual who resembled a farmer. They were huddled
together in a small dark room, in what was obviously
a covert meeting. These men were the few who plotted
the downfall of their rulers, and not so long ago their
number had been six.
She may be evil, but she is
no sorceress, a dark man in the garb of a soldier
said finally. Methos brains have been addled
by earthly means. Our fearless leader is drugged.
Rumours had been flying around that
Derisa, their sovereign Queen, could bewitch a man with
her smile and that she was in league with demons. The
guard, was however, a practical man by nature, and where
his companions may have held with superstition, he did
not. As far as he was concerned, the female half of
the ruling pair was a powerful, ruthless, woman, but
there was nothing supernatural about her abilities.
But Tremar, Sian spoke
up again, how did she discover him, if not by
scrying him out?
It was the whole inconceivability
of it that drove the youngest of them to ask his question.
Methos had been the most careful of them all, the most
intelligent, the plotter, the man whos whole life
had been intrigues. That he should have been caught
was just unbelievable.
He must have been careless,
the warrior returned calmly. From the look on
the face of the man who suddenly holds Methos
position in the court, I would say Parsus turned him
Letting panic spread among their
ranks would just about kill the cause, and Tremar was
making damned sure it didnt happen. The tyrannical
rule of Derisa and her incestuous brother, Pragus, had
caused their subjects to band together in common need,
but talk of black magic could quickly split them again.
The capture of the mastermind behind the plot had just
about broken them, anything else would end it all.
We have to free him,
the soldiers voice was firm. Show the people
that she can be beaten and they will rise with us.
There was fear in all eyes that
moved to meet his, but there was also the recognition
The throne room hummed with the
sound of pipes and pulsed with the beat of drums. The
melody rose and fell in frenetic waves, and joined with
the murmur of voices. Three half naked dancers, two
women, one man, swayed to the thumping and undulated
to the music in what would have once been considered,
a most provocative manner. In current times it was viewed
as tame, compared to some of the things to which the
court was often a witness. Ever since the old King had
died and passed the rule onto his all but useless son,
the palace had become a den of iniquity. It seemed that
Kavar had been the only person in the kingdom not to
realise that his male offspring harboured incestuous
desires for his sister. The moment his father had drawn
his last breath, the obsessed prince had declared that
his sibling would rule with him. What it actually meant
for the realm was that Pragus would do anything Derisa
desired, and this left the people with a conscience
less woman on the throne. There was no doubt who truly
ruled the country, the King was merely a play thing
for the Queen.
Today they sat side by side in royal
splendour, decked out in gold and jewels that would
have fed half the kingdom for decades. Pragus was a
handsome man with dark, almost black curly hair, and
deep tanned features. Yet his visage was flawed, as
it was consumed by overpowering desires and soulless
greed. No amount of finery could make him attractive,
and the gold chains that fell beside his face from a
circlet in his hair, were just cold metal.
Derisa, on the other hand was, on
the surface, what all men could desire. She was beautiful
beyond most of her subjects wild dreams, and her
smile did not betray what lay beneath. Her long hair,
darker even than her brothers, fell in curled
tresses about her lily white skin. Her pale green dress
covered her from shoulder to feet, but it was made of
such a material that it barely concealed anything. Most
of those around her would have fallen at her feet with
true love in their hearts, until that was they looked
in her eyes. There was no feeling there. This woman
did not know the meaning of the word compassion, and
she certainly had no knowledge of self sacrifice.
Tonight there was a man sat at her
feet, quiet and placid as if he were quite content.
His dark eyes and chiselled features made him pleasing
to look at, and the briefest silk tunic showed off a
body that had been shaped by warrior skill. Yet that
was not the reason glances turned his way and then hurriedly
moved on, it was the emptiness in his face that made
people afraid. It was worse that it was such a contrast
to the vital intelligence that had been there only a
Methos, the one time head of palace
security, sat watching the dancers, following every
movement they made as if he was mesmerised by their
swaying. The most prominent feature of his garb was
a golden leash that ran from his neck to the Queens
hand, and to see him was to see a man truly imprisoned.
There was almost a look of boredom
on Derisas face as she too followed the motion
of the entertainment. Lack of interest on the part of
the Queen was a dangerous state of affairs for those
around her and Pragus took the moment to catch her attention.
He did not appear quite so comfortable with the arrangement
of people on the dais.
Beloved, he said quietly
and touched her hand, are you sure this is the
safest course of action.
He was eyeing the back of her captive
as if the man would turn and attack at any moment.
You worry too much, my dearest,
she returned with a smile, he is entirely in my
Since the King still appeared concerned,
she decided to demonstrate.
Methos, she called calmly.
The man turned instantly. His eyes
stared at her blankly for a moment, the shadow of something
behind them, then he smiled and the look was gone.
Pass me a fig, my little pet,
she cooed at him.
Like some trained animal he did
as he was told and then just sat there as if awaiting
Very good, Methos, Derisa
patronised her prisoner, you can go back to watching
the dancers now.
He smiled vacantly and swung his
head back to the scene playing itself out on the floor.
The Queen gave the fig to her brother having proved
I still think
he should have been tortured for information
and executed, Pragus said sulkily.
Your henchmen would not have
extracted anything from him, the beautiful, but
heartless woman returned. Our father had him trained
from childhood, he would have died before talking. The
drugs have his mind completely and showing him off as
a toy does much for our cause. Watching him die slowly
as the poison removes every thought from his pretty
head will serve as a much better example.
She smiled a wicked smile as her
He could last a year, even
two, she continued whimsically, and then
again, I may grow bored. If I cant think of anything
else to do with him, I may stop giving him the potion.
It would be fun to watch him die in agony as his body
Now that did make Pragus look happier.
If truth be told, he was more jealous than apprehensive
and watching the man who had captured his sisters
attention, writhe in pain, appealed to his twisted mind.
For the man under his gaze, the
world was a strange place. He understood everything
that was happening around him, he even knew who he was,
he just didnt care. Things would occur to him,
like the fact that he should be angry, or afraid or
both, but he could not keep the thoughts from leaving
his mind. Everything that came from inside was fleeting
and irrelevant, only the voice of his Queen meant a
damn in his existence. It was so much easier just to
let the world flow past him and ignore the inner voices.
He watched the dancers like a child
watches fire, seeing things in the shapes of their movements
that did not matter and vanished as quickly as they
had come about. He was empty and all that he saw poured
into him, for good or bad, he was just a vessel until
The seemingly endless rise and fall
of the music eventually built into the explosive finale,
and as it crashed to its finish the performers
fell into one panting heap on the floor. They remained
totally motionless as a silence descended, now was the
time they would be judged. Dancing at the palace was
a risky business, it could bring high rewards, but if
the Queen did not like the show it had been known to
be a very final performance. Not even the courtiers
dared move as their cold eyed, female ruler looked at
the glowing bodies in the centre of the hall. It was
part of her game, making them wait, and Pragus just
sat there smiling at the torment it caused the three
At last she moved, and the sigh
of relief was almost audible as she tapped her hands
Very nice, she said
with a most innocent tone, do come back again
The rest of the court broke into
claps of approval as their invisible strings were released.
The three dancers climbed up off the floor and hurried
out of the hall, bowing all the time as they went.
The music started again, softer
this time and servants began to pass among the guests
with large trays of food.
Their repertoire is becoming
tiresome, Derisa said to her brother as the entertainment
left, I hope they think of something better next
Her passing comment did not bode
well for the performers she had invited to return. She
was also beginning to look dangerous, as her interest
in the evening began to wane.
My love, she said to
Pragus eventually, is there one of your henchmen
you don't want anymore.
There was an evil glint in her eye,
and as usual, her brother could refuse her nothing.
For you my dear, he
said with an unpleasant smile, I would give anything.
Feel free to pick one, just not Lephram, please. He
is valuable just at the moment.
The expression that crossed Derisas
face did not light it with joy, more perverse pleasure
than anything else.
Thank you, my dearest,
she said sweetly and patted him on the arm.
Her gaze swung across the room like
an eagle looking for its prey and her eyes alighted
on an unfortunate individual near the door. The man
was decked out in the grey of Pragus best, and
the Queens lips curled at the thought of the upcoming
event. She clapped her hands loudly and suddenly, drawing
the whole room to a complete hush.
You, she said, pointing
at her victim, come to the centre of the room.
Now there was no hesitation in the
mans step, that would have been instantly fatal,
but his face held deep trepidation. Being summoned like
this could mean that he would be a very rich man by
morning, but it could also mean he was a dead man in
the same time span, so he was unsure of his position.
You are skilled in all the
fighting techniques are you not, Derisa said evenly.
Yes, your Majesty, the
doomed individual replied and bowed very low to make
sure his obedience was obvious.
Good, she returned,
because I want you to fight someone.
Your wish is my command,
was the instant reply.
The smile that covered the Queens
face would have chilled the King of hell himself.
Methos, dear, she said
and watched the other man go white, you see that
The drugged prisoners eyes
went from his mistress to the soldier and back again.
I want you to try and kill
him, the instruction brought Methos to his feet
Derisa also stood and walked up
behind her chosen champion. Her fingers released the
golden chain with rapid efficiency, and her captive
stood poised to obey her command.
You may use any weapons you
carry to defeat him, the Queen told the very pale
opponent. He as you see in unarmed. Fairer that
way dont you think?
No-one had ever stood against Methos
and lived. Trained for his position in court since his
tenth birthday, this was one man who could fight any
challenger. The ultimate right of any noble found guilty
of a crime punishable by death was trial by combat,
and Methos had been the executor of those sentences.
If it was possible to beat him, he would have been dead.
Go my pet, she said
in her prisoners ear, show me what you can
The potion Derisa had given Methos
had taken a long time to perfect and it was very specific
in that it did not effect any of the subjects reflexes
or motor abilities. This man was still the fighter he
always had been and as he padded out onto the floor,
it was all too obvious.
There was one thought in the captives
mind and it did not bode well for the man who hurriedly
drew his sword. Methos was all warrior as he slowly
walked around the other soldier, and the only thing
his brain told him was, kill. There was no conscience
to hold him back, no thought for the fate of this innocent
man, not even an idea to spare him a painful death.
All that remained in the hawk nosed mans eyes
was the killer that he had always kept so well hidden.
The grey clothed individual moved
first. His strike was in desperation, but it was founded
on the skill of a man who had been well trained. Against
a lesser opponent it may even have worked, but Methos
just danced out of the way as if it were the most clumsy
attempt in the world. The morals of a good man had been
stripped away from this warrior and he smiled coldly
as his adversary missed. He slipped under the mans
reach with no trouble at all and landed a blow that
sent the guard reeling backwards.
The pair circled for a while, the
victim trying to find any weakness in his opponents
stance, the other just playing with his prey. It was
hunter and hunted, lion and buffalo, neither defenceless,
but one the natural loser.
The Queen smiled every time her
champion landed a blow, and it was easy to see her delight
when he finally chose to really hurt the man. There
was a loud crack as a single swipe broke the guards
wrist and his sword fell noisily to the floor. Much
to his credit the man gave only one cry and them backed
away, cradling his injured arm. With his good hand he
pulled out a knife and Methos kicked the sword towards
the courtiers with disdain.
He watched his opponent with calculated
calm, and there was no doubt in his mind. A small voice
deep inside him cried out for him to stop, but he could
not hear it and the game continued. The only mark he
had received during the battle was a small cut to his
left arm and he hadnt even felt it.
Another exchange, another few bruises
for the hapless soldier, and Derisas eyes were
all but glowing with anticipation. Her champion caught
her eye, and he knew exactly what she wanted. As they
engaged again Methos swung behind his adversary and
deftly removed the unfortunates only other weapon:
a second dagger from the opposite hip as the first.
The guard could see his death in his opponents
They both brought their arms up
and the well kept blades glinted in the light. A soldier
killed by his own weapon, the ultimate in humiliation,
but that thought never entered Methos head. They
came at each other and the guard knew it would be for
the last time, all he had ever been doing was delaying
the inevitable. Steel clashed, a hand lanced out and
caught the victims arm, a foot swept his legs
out form under him, and he was falling. He landed on
his back and a second later his opponents blade
also came down. Death was instantaneous as the weapon
flawlessly sliced into his heart.
The smell of blood reached Methos
nostrils as the red liquid ran over the hand that had
dealt the fatal blow. Just for that second his mind
grasped what he had done, and he was frozen. His eyes
looked toward Derisa and they were full of pure hatred,
before the drug robbed him of even that. The Queen thought
this was a fantastic climax.
So there is still fight left
in you, my pet, she said delightedly, even as
his face returned to the placid mask.
She climbed to her feet once more
and glided from her throne to her champion. He was taller
than her as he rose to his full height, but it was obvious
who was the mistress as she refastened the gold chain
around his neck.
You were wonderful,
she purred and ran her hand over the blood covered limb
which still held the knife.
Much to several peoples well
hidden disgust she then reached up and stroked the side
of his face, drawing on it a long red streak.
One day Ill have someone
kill you, she said as if the rest of the court
did not exist, but not today.
She seemed to snap back to wear
she was very suddenly.
Music, she said with
an empty laugh, we shall celebrate my champions
Nobody was going to argue with her,
now or ever.
It was not much later that Derisa
yawned and looked towards her brother.
I grow weary of this place,
she said with a smile, with your permission I
shall return to my rooms.
She had no need to ask, but it pleased
her to play the supplicant from time to time.
You have my permission to
do so ever as you wish, Pragus returned right
on cue, and kissed her fingers.
Then his eyes fell on the golden
chain and his face showed his distaste, he was quite
aware Methos was sharing his sisters bed just
at the moment. He had never had exclusive right to his
Queens passions, and quite frankly in his perverted
mind he quite enjoyed the idea that he was not the only
one, but he did not like Derisas new slave.
Oh, why so unhappy,
the beautiful woman cooed as she saw the expression,
you have my heart, my brother.
That almost worked, but Pragus was
still not smiling, and in her own way, Derisa did care
what her sibling was feeling. She looked at him brightly
as something occurred to her.
Why dont you join us,
my love? she asked cheerfully, as if she were
suggesting no more than a walk in the grounds. He
really is quite good, you know, all that military training
can be put to other uses. You could bring along one
of those servant girls youre so fond of and we
could play some games.
By the time the idea sunk in, the
King was beaming from ear to ear, and the royal couple
stayed only a few minutes longer.
The city around the palace was brimming
over with news of what the mighty Methos had done very
soon after it happened, and it didnt take long
for the conspirators to hear of it. That he was a lap
dog was one thing, that their leader now killed on command
for the enemy was another, and it was a great blow.
We must free him soon,
Tremar decided almost immediately after the messenger
delivered the information. Any more episodes like
that and he wont be worth rescuing.
There was only so much the people
would put up with in a leader, it was difficult to explain
to the masses that Methos could not be held responsible
for anything he did.
Bedias, the warrior
seemed to have stepped into the shoes of the man who
was now Derisas slave, tomorrow in court,
try and find out as much about what goes on behind closed
doors. Make it look as if youre morbidly curious,
itll amuse Derisa if she comes to hear of it.
Life in the royal court could never
be described as usual.
Priam, the farmer sat
up and listened, well need a diversion tomorrow
night. Can you call your people together and have a
I know of several who would
like to let out some frustration, the lowly man
replied with a glint in his eye.
It was not often that any had a
chance to show their disgust at the way the kingdom
was being run, but if they planned it properly, it would
be an entertaining evening. Nobody knew the city better
than those who lived there and most of Priams
friends were street rats.
Devid, he turned to
the one member of the party who rarely spoke and whose
garb matched his humour.
The man wore black from head to
foot and it was obvious he was armed to the teeth. This
was the citys King of thieves, even those who
worked beyond the law had had enough of Derisa and her
Well need a master lock
pick and at least one strong arm if we are to get inside
the palace, Devid was the only one of whom Tremar
Methos had trusted him, but then
the master of intrigue had known more than enough about
the thief to keep him well in line. That was why, when
the criminal smiled, the warrior was actually surprised.
Do not look so worried, Tremar,
Devid said wryly, just because I am a thief does
not mean I will stab you in the back as soon as you
turn away. There is honour among my kind, just as there
is among yours. I have three people in mind who fit
your needs perfectly, I will send them here at sundown
My apologies, the soldier
returned, it did not do well to upset ones associates.
Then we move when next darkness comes to the god
forsaken place. If this works we will be able to rally
the people and strike at the palace very soon. If we
fail then this is all over.
Silence greeted his ominous words.
Methos did not remember the night
before, which was a blessing really. The things he had
done left no imprint on his memory and he was spared
the thoughts that would have haunted him forever. The
way he had been used was nothing more than a dark dream
that his mind would never recall. The servant girl had
not been so lucky and Pragus had had to drug her to
get her back to his rooms when the two had finally left.
The sun played off the metal ewer
in the corner so beautifully and as the morning truly
arrived Methos just lay in his Queens bed watching
it. He was like a child, anything could hold his attention,
even something as simple as a shaft of light. He did
not care that he was naked in the arms of a woman he
despised. It never entered his head that once he would
have ripped her heart out rather than lay beside her.
He was just caught in the loveliness of a sun beam on
gold. In some ways his world was so much easier now,
he had no cares, but neither did he have a mind to realise
this. In Derisas thoughts she believed she was
torturing him, but in truth, there was nothing there
to cause pain. Even the flashes of who he had been were
meaningless because there was no Methos to remember
A face looked in from the supposedly
impenetrable garden that sat outside the window, and it was saddened
by what it beheld. The woman was tall and beautiful
and had anyone seen her they would have fallen to their
knees in supplication. This was the face of the Goddess,
the one thing in the kingdom that even Derisa dared
not defile. Why a Goddess would be dressed in travelling
clothes and carry a large sword strapped to her back
was not a question for her worshippers. That this person
had made very sure no-one saw her and never would was
also a mystery, but then who could wonder at the mind
of a deity.
Your road is going to be harder
than you thought possible, my young friend, she
said quietly as she watched Methos smile as a butterfly
flew through the window. I will be seeing you
By evening the plotters had all
the information they needed. They knew that Methos would
be sleeping in a guarded room near the servants
quarters, thanks to a small mistake on his part earlier
in the day and the Queens displeasure. Tremar
had arranged for a sympathetic soldier to be on duty
outside the quarters, and the times of the watch were
already known to him.
Sian was the son of the keeper of
the treasury which gave him a detailed knowledge of
the palace from his childhood, and he had volunteered
to lead the mission. The three people Devid sent over
were not quite what Tremar had been expecting. Only
one of them fitted the part he saw for them, and that
was Wyn, a very large individual from a foreign land.
His hair was as white a snow, enough to make anyone
talk in this kingdom of sun and dark locks, and he carried
two very unusual axes. The second was of all things,
a woman, not that Tremar had anything against women,
its just they didnt usually have daggers
at every available point on their person or carry everything
needed to conquer the strongest lock. Her name was Aranie,
and her chocolate brown skin and large black eyes made
even the happily married soldier look twice. The third
seemed even more out of place, since he was supposed
to be the other strong arm Tremar had requested. Ivra
was quite small for a start and he did not seem to pack
much muscle. When the soldier pointed this out, however,
that young individual gave a very quick demonstration
of how speed could be a much greater weapon than brute
strength, as he disarmed and put him on his backside.
The three individuals set off with
Sian as soon as the sun was fully down, leaving Tremar
to wait for their success or failure.
Getting into the palace was easy.
Everyone except those servants who were asleep, those
running the feast and the guard tours were inside the
great hall. No locks or bars were any trouble for Aranie
and the four slipped inside like mice into a kitchen.
Music and shouting could be heard from the massive party
that Derisa had suddenly decided to throw, and it covered
just about any accidental noise that could have given
them away. It was as they headed down the darkened hallway
to the room in which Methos was being held that a shadowy
figure stepped into a pool of moonlight. This person
was hooded, and just stood there watching them with
If he had been a lesser man, Sian
would have panicked, but instead he drew his party to
a halt and scanned the rest of the corridor. The newcomer
waited patiently, sword at side and finally the young
conspirator walked towards them.
Friend or foe? he asked,
even though it sounded ridiculous in the dark passageway.
You may have need of me, friend,
was all the other said, and with a start, Sian realised
this was a woman. The man you are looking for
has been moved, Derisa wants him paraded around at the
feast later. Theyve taken him to the bath house
to clean him up where she had him beaten.
There were only two things the young
man could do, trust this woman as a new ally, or try
and kill her. Either way their plan would not work.
This could be one of Parsus games, in which case
their presence was known, or she was telling the truth,
in which case, Methos was no longer where they expected
him to be.
You wont mind if I ask
you to lead the way? Sian said slowly, at least
that way he could keep an eye one her.
Not at all, she replied
with a laugh in her voice, thats the sign
of an intelligent man.
The four originals and their new
companion set off at a light trot.
The bruises and the cuts hurt as
two servants washed him and dabbed balms on the wounds,
but it didnt help Methos recall how he had been
injured. He had been given no specific instructions
as how to behave and the two women found that this could
be a dangerous state of affairs. Every time a cut stung
as they applied their concoctions he would lash out,
reacting on instinct. He was tetchy anyway because very
shortly he would be given his daily dose of the potion
that kept him servile, and he was starting to feel the
effects of withdrawal. It didnt occur to either
of the two watching him that it was not only the Queens
voice he obeyed and any strong authority would do. Not
until he actually sent one of the two reeling backwards
did the other scold him and discovered that he became
quite docile when told to sit still and be good. The
guard standing by the door found this very funny.
It was Methos who actually heard
his rescuers first, and as his sharp hearing caught
the sound of booted feet he cocked his head on one side.
He turned to look at the door, just as Wyn came through
it and buried an axe in the guards head.
A sound and you die,
Aranie hissed as she followed her companion through
the door with two daggers in hands.
The two women either side of Methos
were not about to argue, and they backed away slowly
as the intruders approached. Sian knelt down beside
the naked, placid form of his leader.
Methos, he said, seeing
the empty stare was almost unbearable, were
here to get you out of the palace. Do you understand?
Yes, the other replied
calmly, but it was quite obvious by his face that he
had no comprehension of to whom he was speaking.
He did however stand up, ready to
leave whenever they so desired. Aranie couldnt
help herself, she eyed him up and down with a very large
smile on her face.
Quite a man, she said
appreciatively, I can see why hes worth
The look that crossed Sians
face said he didnt appreciate such comments, and
this was not the time or place to be discussing anything
Loosen up, lad, Wyn
said quietly, were halfway home.
He was, however, helping Methos
with a robe at the time so he did not receive such a
withering stare as his female companion. The older man
had cottoned onto the fact that the man they were rescuing
would do anything he was told, but wasnt much
into thinking for himself.
Now you stay with us whatever
happens, lad, the blond individual told his ward
It seemed that he called everyone
who wasnt his own age, with some form of endearment.
The message quiet clearly reached Methos scrambled
brains and he nodded with complete certainty.
And if anyone attacks us youre
on our side, a female voice said from outside
Their mysterious helper was taking
no chances, she did not suddenly want to find that their
captive was trying to kill them from behind.
Lets get out of here,
Ivra hissed from the other side of the doorway, someones
It didnt take anymore information
than that, they were on their way quickly.
Bugger, Wyn said quietly
as they skirted round yet another corner and shouts
of alarm could be heard behind them.
What had been a rapid escape turned
into a full run as the party made a bee line for their
You go, the hooded woman
said as the voices behind them began to get louder,
Ill hold them off.
And what makes you think you
can take on the palace guard, Sian hissed as he
drew to a halt whilst his companions ran on.
Oh, Im Immortal,
the woman said with a laugh in her voice and pushed
back the covering from her face. now go, and dont
tell anyone what you saw.
The stunned look that crossed her
comrades face was almost worth the pain it was
going to cause her. Sian was not about to disobey a
direct order from his deity, even if doubt did tell
him this was impossible, and he fled up the corridor.
The woman pulled up her hood once more and waited for
the first of her assailants to round the corner.
Chalk another one up for this
damned deity, she muttered as an oaf of a man
came barrelling towards her.
He was a little surprised as she
stepped out of the shadows to attack and her sword cut
him down with little to no trouble at all.
Theyd almost made it, their
escape was in sight when Parsus stepped out of the room
to their left.
I was wondering who so carelessly
left the window open, he said with a smile on
his face as two of his elite stepped out of the other
doors in front of the window.
The five people skidded to a halt
and drew their weapons, they were fighters, but they
were no match for these people. The new head of intelligence
just laughed at the blank stare Methos gave him as he
stepped into his eye line.
Id say drop your weapons
and youll have your lives, but I would be lying,
this was one man who enjoyed his job.
He drew his sword ready for the
kill, and then found out hed made a big mistake.
The moment he showed aggression to the party of five
Methos moved. Hed been told that if anyone attacked
he was on his rescuers side and he did not stop
to consider any consequences, he just acted. Parsus
died before he had time to even comprehend that hed
been attacked, his neck broken and his nose a pulp on
Everyone else just stood there,
motionless. Methos looked at the man at his feet and
felt just a moment of satisfaction. Neither of the other
two palace personnel moved a muscle, they did not want
to be the next to die.
There are guards below,
one said finally, making the decision that could save
his life, Ill show a safe way out.
Im with you too,
the other decided quickly, they hadnt exactly
been fond of Parsus anyway.
Sian chose not to argue with the
wise choice and indicated for the two to lead off.
If you betray us, he
said in a low voice, you are the first to die.
The thought never entered the new
recruits heads, and they led their compatriots
through the hallways and out into the city.
The relief to see the whole party
alive was such that Tremar enfolded Sian in a hug when
the young man returned. He then went to Methos and did
the same, totally blind to the fact that his old friend
did not recognise him.
Welcome back, my friends,
he said loudly, and some new ones as well
The night sky was bright with a
fire Priams people had started in the royal stables,
tomorrow would be a good day for an uprising. It was
only as the soldiers eyes returned from the sky
that the expression on Sians face brought him
back from his musings.
He does not know us,
the young man said quietly and looked at Methos.
Looking into his face, Tremar could
see the truth of his companions words, but he
did not want to believe that the man who had dreamed
of freedom was gone forever.
Hell get better,
the soldier insisted quietly, when the drugs wear
off. Youll see, the old Methos will be back, bossing
us all around as usual.
Sian tried to agree and smile, but
there was something about his compatriots tone
that did not ring true.
Fury was the first emotion that
crossed Derisas face as she saw the carnage that
had been one of the central palace hallways. One fighter,
that was what they tried to tell her, one person had
caused this much destruction. She swept round the corner
towards the bath house and into the now crowded room.
The two serving girls had been found cowering in the
corners and she had them brought before her.
What happened here?
she asked coldly.
The two looked at each other, almost
afraid to speak, but quite sure that to remain silent
would mean death.
There were five, your Majesty,
the older of the two said rapidly and did her best to
prostrate herself on the wet floor, they took
This was one Queen who need scapegoats
for her anger and her twisted mind saw these two as
the perfect victims.
Hes gone and yet you
live, she said coldly, how can that be?
The two cowering women could say
Why did you not throw yourselves
on their swords screaming for help? she asked
with brooding fury. The guards heard nothing until
it was too late, and yet you survived.
She walked round the pair and glared
at them. The soldiers in the room were just glad it
was not they who were under her scrutiny.
Throw them in a cell,
Derisa ordered spitefully, I shall decide what
to do with them tomorrow.
The warriors did not hesitate to
obey. It was a matter of them and us, and them lost.
Yet even as the unfortunate servants were being dragged
away, begging for forgiveness, the Queen picked up a
small bottle form the side of the baths and began to
laugh. She cackled wildly as she looked at the blue
liquid in the vial and did not stop until Pragus walked
What do you find so funny,
sister? he asked a little more harshly than he
usually spoke to his beloved.
She turned to him with the most
complete smile on her face.
This, my love, she said
joyfully and waved the bottle in front of him, they
have rescued a dead man.
The Kings brow creased with
lack of understanding, no-one would ever accuse this
man of having intelligence.
He will be dead by morning,
Derisa said with another laugh. He must take the
potion in the next hour or he will die, they rescued
Methos only to see him wither away before them.
Now both monarchs began to laugh.
It was almost like it had been a
few days ago, all the conspirators sat around their
table, but even though they were all there in body,
one was missing in spirit. Methos attention span
had expanded to a few minutes, but he could barely put
two words together and everything confused him. His
mind could grasp that he knew these people and he was
important to them, but as his thought processes were
beginning to return the clarity of the world was diminishing.
Certain things were getting through, and he did manage
to put a few thoughts together.
Strike now, he said
quietly and brought the whole room to a sudden hush.
He managed to concentrate his attention
on all the faces that turned to him.
We have to wait for you to
get well, Priam spoke up as his friends
seemed lost for words, the people will follow
A vague memory impinged itself on
Methos memory and he knew that that was never
going to happen ...
Derisa walked in front of him with
a large smile on her face. He was restrained from behind
with thick leather straps, confined like an animal for
Youre mine now, Methos,
she said and her eyes spoke of desire as well as victory.
Now and forever.
Only in your dreams, Derisa,
he said coldly.
She slapped him for that reply.
Really, Methos, she
said, enjoying his pain, your Majesty, or beloved
are the only ways you should refer to me.
You have no more right to
the throne than that snake you call a brother,
he spat back, and she hit him again with perverse amusement.
She beckoned over one of her rat
faced flunkies who passed her a small bottle.
This will give you to me,
she said with calm, even tones, it will take your
will and throw it away. You soul will be mine, Methos,
for as long as you live. This concoction has interesting
consequences for those who stop taking it: they die,
slowly, and in great pain. Eventually you wont
be able to take enough to stop the craving, and then
youll die anyway.
her fingers at the guard behind the captive and the
oaf stepped forward taking hold of his one time commander,
by the hair.
They pulled his head back and tipped
the liquid down his throat, he did not recall any more.
... He looked at those around him
as very quietly began to speak.
Im dying, he told
them with all the concentration he could muster. The
drug is killing me, you have to do this yourselves.
It was as if admitting it made it
true, and suddenly the young form was gripped by a wave
of agony. The pain started in the pit of his stomach
and moved through every nerve in his body. He fell from
his chair with a pitiful cry and curled into a pathetic
heap. Sian leapt to his side, he could not believe this
as happening. He had remained silent about the presence
of the goddess, but he did not understand this. Why
would their deity help with the rescue, only to watch
the man they had worked so hard for, die in front of
Just breathing was like dragging
fire into his lungs and the furnace consumed him. His
mind cried out for release, but the pain sought out
every cell and his senses seemed almost heightened by
what was happening. It hed been able, he would
have screamed his agony to the world. Yet no sound passed
his lips as every muscles in his body contracted and
tried to asphyxiate him. At that moment he knew what
would eventually kill him, but this time the spasm passed
and the molten lava that his blood had become, cooled
The torment ebbed away, leaving
him exhausted and shivering, lying on the cold stone
floor. There was a hand on his back, and his surrounds
seemed to have a little more clarity than before. As his body relaxed from its tightly curled position,
he heard Sian calling his name.
Methos, can you hear me?
the tone was urgent, almost panicked, but his friend
could not answer.
There was no strength left in his
body, and Methos just wanted to give in to the urge
to sleep. His tortured form craved rest, and yet he
knew he could not let that happen. If he slept he would
just wake screaming, no good to anyone, until finally
the muscle spasm would not let go and he would die,
unable to take precious air into his system. With an
effort, born of a will of iron he pushed himself onto
his back and took Sians hand.
Help me up, he said
quietly, and his companions recognised a shadow
of their old friend returning to the damaged shell.
Tremar moved to help his comrades
and together the two men managed to put Methos back
in his chair. His skin was grey and there were large
black rings around his eyes, but the gaze that met his
fellows had regained its cunning. Even as the
pain started to eat away at his life, it gave the tortured
man back his mind. He didnt know if he had days
left, or hours, or minutes, but he did realise that
this uprising should not die with him.
Our attack must come before
dawn, he had every mans attention and they
did not question his judgement. With a new day
there must be a new order, or the sun will bring fear
and Derisa will send out her guards to make sure there
will never be another incident like this.
He always spoke of Derisa as the
ruling power in this city, he knew that Pragus was no
more than a figurehead for his beloved sister.
The truth of his words was not lost
on any of those who gathered in the little room, and
together they began to lay plans. The first time, the
delay between seizures was quite long, but the second
was shorter and after the third Methos passed out and
had to be taken to a bed. He had given his friends all
he had left and they all knew he would not live to see
the victory he had worked so hard to bring about.
His carers, Tremars wife and
daughter, had tried to give him food, but his stomach
had been unable to keep anything down. About the only
thing that could pass his lips without returning the
same way was water and that seemed to aggravate his
condition more than anything. Eventually they just let
him lie there, trying to ease his discomfort with a
herbal compress, but knowing it was just a matter of
time. It was the ultimate evil, his mind was his own
again, but his body could no longer perform the tasks
of living. When he had two seizures in quick succession,
Tremars wife went to fetch her husband.
The veteran warrior entered the
room to hear the rattle of his friends breathing
as even that became almost too much for his weary body.
Death was not an uncommon thing to any in this kingdom,
but such a loss as this was almost too much to bear.
With tears in his eyes and anger in his heart, Tremar
knelt down beside the low bed and took Methos
You will not be forgotten,
my friend, he said firmly, as the dark, fevered
eyes turned towards him, your name will live on
as a symbol for these times.
At that the dying man actually smiled.
You sentimental old fool,
he said with slow uneven tones, I dont care
about my name. Just make sure Derisa cant do this
to anyone else.
He was trying to make light of his
own end, but there was fear in his tired gaze. To die
was an incredible journey and even the most practical
of men was afraid to go.
I shall see you again someday,
Tremar said with a confident smile, and we shall
drink the wine of the Goddess, and laugh about what
we once were.
Id prefer beer,
Methos said and grinned as well as his body would let
They were the last words he uttered
and the agony took him only a few seconds later. First
the fire, and his body burned, then the constricting
pain that made his chest feel as if it were being squashed
by a buffalo. His fingers dug into Tremars hand,
but all that the warrior heard was a quiet choking sound.
There was no death scream, no cry to express the torment
flowing through the wreck of a man, and then it was
over. Methos relaxed, but not with the relief of another
hurdle passed, there was no life left in the hand that
limply fell away from his companions arm. His
pain was finished, the master of intrigue was dead.
His co-conspirators were silent
as Tremar walked back into their den of plots. The anger
in his face and the unshed tears in his eyes said everything
the others needed to know.
We start this, and we start
this now, he said loudly, it is time to
raise the people against the filth we call rulers.
Their own groups each had jobs to
do, and it was no time for delaying.
Methos will not have died
in vain, the warrior continued firmly, and
he shall be the fire that will sweep the palace clean.
He stared at each of his companions
in turn and all expressions agreed.
Sian, were his next
words, you and I are taking our comrade to the
temple. His death will be a catalyst, and in the Goddess
name we shall call the citizens of this city to arms.
At that moment, the younger man
actually believed he knew why his deity had helped to
rescue his friend. Suddenly his role in all this had
meaning again, and Sian nodded with complete certainty.
Everyone else, go to your
people and lets finish what we have begun,
Tremars words did not need repeating.
They wrapped his body in a white
sheet and placed him on a wooden litter like some kind
of icon. Heads appeared at windows and a few people
followed them as Sian and Tremar carried the remains
of Methos to the temple at the centre of the city.
Halt, and make yourselves
known, the temple guard stopped them at the gate.
Stand aside, soldier,
Tremar said with total certainty, we bring the
body of Methos so that he may go to rest in the arms
of the Goddess. He has given his life for the people
of this place, and his remains must be kept safe for
burial after we have taken the city.
There was the zeal of a man who
knew exactly what he was doing in the warriors
eyes and the man in his way could see the truth. There
were people gathering around the gateway and this soldier
could see the future in their faces. He stepped aside,
he was not a man to stand in the way of history.
The temple was a huge building of
granite and marble, and it proclaimed its teachings
in relief all over its outside. Each part of the
wall was lit by torches and the representations of old
battles and godly events formed a splendid background
for the presentation of the new ages first martyr.
The priestess and three of her acolytes met the two
men at the top of the steps, just in front of the great
You will not make a battle
ground of Her place, the regal looking woman said
quietly as the two groups came together.
No, your Holiness, Tremar
replied calmly, only a point of focus. The palace
will be our battle ground.
That was all the assurance this
servant of their deity required.
We will take him from here,
she said loudly so that the growing crowd could hear,
go with the blessing of the Raena herself.
Using the Goddess name was
a right reserved for the clergy only, and that the priestess
had employed it here created a hush over the whole crowd.
The four women took a corner of the litter each and
carried Methos body into the temple as their congregation
watched. Tremar and Sian held their places at the top
of the stairs just long enough for the scene to be completed
and then they returned to the gate, ready to rally those
It was slightly colder in the temple
than outside, the large pieces of stone having given
up the days heat long since. Once beyond the great doors
another acolyte took the place of the priestess in carrying
the body and she moved over to stand beside the only
man in the higher orders of the Goddess services.
The High priest watched the women carry the body to
the inner chamber and turned to his companion.
Was it wise to use Her name?
he said quietly with a small twitch of an eyebrow.
He was a tall man, and one who had
spent many years practising being holy. His counterpart
was probably the one person who could hold his gaze
without thinking about eternal damnation.
There is a change coming,
the priestess said with calm resolve, I wanted
to make sure it would be a change for the better. We
have been lacking in our responsibilities these last
few years, Jaris. Hiding behind our walls we have turned
our backs on the people and their suffering. It is time
to take sides.
In the central chamber of the temple,
the four acolytes placed Methos before the statue of
their deity. Her arms were stretched forth in an open
greeting manner and the cold stone reached over the
still form. They placed candles at his head and feet,
and lit incense on the two small burners beside their
Goddess. Three then left and the other knelt down reverently
next to the dead man and began to pray.
Methos had left the world in pain,
and he rejoined it with the same feeling. His starved
lungs made him gasp for air and every abused muscle
made itself known to him. He tried to move, discovered
something was constricting his movements, groaned and
rolled over, straight off the litter. The first thing
he heard was a scream and the sound of running feet.
The rotation had freed him from
the sheet, and slowly he picked himself up off the floor.
He was very confused, but at least the ache that seemed
bone deep was fading away as if it had never been there.
Standing was an interesting experience and the room
made some interesting lurches before he actually managed
to stop staggering around. His eyes caught sight of
his arm and he stared at it stupidly for a moment, there
was something wrong. Then he remembered, there should
have been a cut on it, just above the wrist, and then
it all came flooding back.
The High priest and priestess came,
regally, charging into the room to find a very shocked
looking man standing in front of their altar staring
at it fixedly.
Mother of the universe,
it was quite an experience to hear a priestess blaspheme.
Dead was dead, and only a few minutes
ago, Methos had definitely been beyond the mortal plane.
When he turned to gaze at the two clergy, looking into
the eyes of a corpse was eerie for them both.
Its a sign, the
female of the pair whispered, almost in awe, a
sign from her.
Miracles didnt happen often
and the religious leaders in this city were not arguing
with this one.
Quickly, Jaris said
suddenly as his mind caught up with events, your
friends are still outside, you must go to them. You
have been given new life to bring down the evil which
infests this city. You must use it.
Those werent quite the conclusions
to which Methos was coming, but they sounded just about
as sensible. He didnt have much choice in the
matter, anyway, as he was virtually herded towards the
great doors. It didnt matter that he was a complete
mess, that his clothes were dirty and his hair on end.
He had been reborn, all the signs of damage were gone
from his person and he was going to lead the rebellion,
whether he was ready or not.
Tremar was working well with the
crowd. When he rallied them they echoed his words and
he could feel that they were almost ready to go. He
was about to launch into a battle cry, and lead them
off, when there was sudden, total and utter silence.
It was almost as if the entire city was holding its
breath, and all eyes were looking up the temple steps.
All the veteran soldier could do was follow their gazes,
and when his field of vision reached the great doors
his voice vanished as well.
By all that is holy,
Sians whisper mirrored the thoughts going through
A temple guard had thrust a sword
into Methos hand and he was stood at the entrance
to the place of worship, looking for all the world,
a little lost. Tremar found his friends eyes and
saw the confusion there, and his shock evaporated. He
had briefly reconsidered his religious convictions,
but his practicality won through. He covered the distance
between himself and his old friend in seconds, and enveloped
the man in a hug.
I dont know how this
happened, he whispered in Methos ear, but
now is not the time for questions. Call them to follow
you, and do it now.
The newly resurrected man looked
at his companion, then at the crowd, then back to his
first view and slowly his thoughts began to move. The
sharp intelligence returned to his eyes and Tremar knew
that their revolution was underway.
This was not, however, the only
return from the dead going on within the city walls.
A dishevelled, but still hooded woman pulled herself
out of an alley into which she had collapsed. The battle
had been short and fierce and she had fled when the
numbers became too great. Her exit had been fast, but
one of Pragus elite had tried to end it with a
throwing knife to the back. She had managed to run on,
but the wound had been fatal and she had succumbed to
the cold hands of death just after disappearing into
Luckily for her, someone had seen
fit to steal the blade from her back and the short shuddering
breath she had taken had frightened the same individual
away before they could take anything else. She had,
however, been dead for just that little bit too long,
and her spirits fell as she heard the cry go up across
the city. They were calling Methos name and she
had a distinct sinking feeling.
Too late, Raena, she
said to herself and brushed off the dirt, you
blew it again.
There was a lot be said for numbers
and it was impossible to stop the citizens of the city
breaking through the walls of the palace. They swarmed
through the outer courtyards like so many ants, brandishing
everything from meat cleavers to pokers. They clashed
with the palace guards and the blood began to flow.
Methos and his friends fought their
way through and into the building itself, there were
few who even tried to stand in the way of the man who
had helped train most of the soldiers. Doors in the
palace were fortuitously open and it was apparent that
Devids people had done their job before disappearing
back into the woodwork.
There were secret passages throughout
the old building, and if they hadnt had Methos
on their side, the attacker would never have known.
As it was when soldiers suddenly appeared as if from
nowhere the group were ready for them. They were on
their way to the throne room, the only place with a
tunnel to the outside world. That would be Pragus and
Derisas escape route, and it was the perfect place
to spring the final trap. Priams people would
have made their way into the entrance by now, and the
Monarchs would find themselves stuck in their own web.
There was no hesitation on Methos
part as grey clad soldiers blocked his companys
path. He charged in, weapon in hand, as if he could
take on the entire force single handily. He was feeling
a little bit invulnerable, and it made him just about
unstoppable. Three guards went down before his comrades
even joined the fight. There was something about surviving
death that brought out a courageous, but somewhat reckless
side to Methos, and it did not bode well for his opponents.
He clashed swords with a man whos
face was all too familiar, and it brought him sharply
back to reality. This was one of his hand picked few,
a man he had trusted with his life, now he knew who
had betrayed him to Parsus.
Hello, Lephram, he said
coldly as the hilts of their weapons locked, I
never thought Id see you in Pragus grey.
There were two distinct seats of
soldiering power in the palace, one had been Methos
group, the other Pragus, they had never liked
each other. Derisa had looked on those in black as her
people, but they had always been loyal to their commander
first. Those who hunted to the Kings horn were
loyal only to their own gain. Many of Methos soldiers
had changed sides to band with the rebels when they
had heard the rallying cry, those in grey were not so
The frantic soldier struck out desperately,
and in his haste actually landed a strike with his dagger
on his opponents outstretched arm. All colour
left the unfortunates face as the wound sparked
and closed as if it had never been there. He had a few
seconds to wonder at it as Methos gazed on in
shock, and then his opponents sword relieved him
of any cares he may have once had.
Some of their number burst into
the throne room a few seconds later and discovered the
whereabouts of a large number of the other guards that
had vanished. There had to have been thirty of them,
all lined up between their Monarchs and the rebels.
Each man had been promised a fortune in gold if they
survived, and to these individuals, money spoke very
Kill them all, Derisas
condescending tones filtered into the corridor and suddenly
there was nothing that could even slow Methos down.
Let them die like the swine they are.
She was actually laughing, as if
it were all a game. She was sure in her delusion, that
the servants behind her would open the escape route,
she and Pragus would flee to safety until the rebellion
was quashed and then she would return to her throne.
In her mind, defeat was not possible, that was until
she saw a very familiar figure run through the doorway.
Not possible, her voice
was a whisper and could not be heard over the clash
of metal as the warriors fought.
Her hand clasped at the pouch on
her belt, the pocket that held the token of Methos
downfall. She had kept the little bottle from the bath
house, now it gave her no solace. Once, this man had
just been her toy, another enemy defeated, now it seemed
he was her nemesis. Their eyes locked and for the first
time in her life, she actually knew fear.
Youre dead, the
words cut straight through the fighting, and it even
brought some of it to a stop.
Pragus spun on the spot, where he
was watching his bondsman open the secret passage and
his face crumpled in complete terror.
Not before you, Methos
returned with cold, hard brutality.
At his confident, clear tone he
saw something hed never expected to witness. Derisas
expression changed to one of pure terror and incomprehension,
and in that moment her enemy saw her soul. She turned
to flee, unthinking and in total panic, running blindly
for the nearest door, knowing that nothing could stand
between her and the demon she had failed to kill.
At the same time Pragus man
finally pulled the entrance to the passage open and
the King ran to it. He never even made it through the
darkened opening, but stopped suddenly just as he reached
it. The muscles in his back tensed and his shoulders
stooped over as he looked down. Only as he turned back,
a look of complete shock on his face, did it become
obvious what had happened. Pragus had impaled himself
on the sword of one of those coming to close the trap,
and it protruded from the centre of his chest. He seemed
stunned, unable to believe what had happened, and only
as blood trickled out of the side of his mouth did comprehension
dawn. He collapsed slowly, the glaze of death in his
The fate of the puppet ruler was
not on Methos mind, however, and he was already
charging after Derisa. Behind him Sian and Tremar followed
on closely, and the three ran to catch the fleeing woman.
At first it was as if they had lost her, but then they
heard a door slam and the man she had killed sped up
once more. They came to a halt outside Pragus
chambers as two very large, very heavy door greeted
She is trapped, Methos
said without the slightest hint of emotion in his voice,
there is no way out of these rooms except this
Pragus had always been a paranoid
man and he had had these rooms fortified especially
for himself. There had once been a tunnel out, but he
had had it sealed, and all the windows had been filled
in, it was a dead end. In her panic Derisa had fled
to what her brother called the safest room in the palace,
and it was her downfall.
With the hilt of his sword, Methos
banged on the door and the sound boomed throughout the
Open the door, Derisa,
he called loudly, this is over.
He was telling nothing but the truth,
the rebellion was all but finished. The fighting had
almost stopped, the King was dead, the Queen trapped,
there was no way out for the tyrannical rule, it was
There was no reply from behind the
sculpted portals, but the carved revellers faces
were not laughing at those trying to get in, they were
laughing at the victim sealed behind them. He had waited
a long time to see the Queen fall and now Methos was
Find something to break this
door down, he snapped at the two men beside him,
I want her out of there.
His eyes were flashing and he could
barely contain himself as his comrades picked up a very
large, heavy torch burner and headed for the door. The
three thrust it against the gold painted wood and chunks
of the precious metal flaked off. The value of what
they were destroying was not, however, anywhere in Methos
mind and all that the damage meant to him was one splinter
closer to his prey.
The door gave with an almighty creak
and their battering ram fell to the floor moments later.
The three men charged into the room and were drawn to
a complete stand still by what they found. The torches
flickered off the high walls and made eerie patterns
in the curtains around the large place to sleep. A perfect
surround to the figure of Derisa, sat in her brothers
bed, totally motionless, with a very blank expression
on her face. She looked at the three men with empty,
unthinking eyes and a small bottle rolled from her right
hand. Sian and Tremar walked forward slowly, but Methos
was frozen as he saw what he must have been. They had
told him what he had become, but he had never seen it
and the sight of another stopped every emotion that
raged through his troubled heart. His youngest companion
picked up the vial and threw it against the wall in
She took her own potion rather
than face us, he said as if she had robbed him
of the final victory.
Tremar was no happier about it,
but he could see the consequences of her actions. He
took her chin in his hands and pulled her head up to
look into her dead eyes.
Well you dont get away
that easily, Derisa, he spat coldly, well
throw you in a cell and we can watch you die the same
way you wanted to watch Methos.
His righteous anger was complete
and it felt like a just punishment for all her crimes.
What he did not realise it that his companion had gone
beyond his fury and the lust for battle had died in
No, Methos said firmly,
and his friends turned to see a sad expression on his
face, there has been enough suffering. Take her
out, show her to the people and then execute her. Get
it over with and then we can get on with living.
The other two would have argued
that it was not enough, that she deserved to die in
pain, the way she had watched so many others, but the
haunted look in his eyes stopped them. This was a man
who had seen death, and if this was the way he wanted
his revenge then they would not argue. To put him through
any more pain would have been unthinkable.
Ill be in the palace
shrine, he said quietly and turned to go, leaving
them to their work.
There was no clear reason in Methos
head as to why he headed for the only holy place within
the palace walls. It was just that somehow, it seemed
the right thing to do. As he walked, he saw the way
people looked at him, the awe in their eyes, and he
didnt like it at all. By the time he reached the
seclusion of the barely used shrine he was glad of it
and closed the doors behind him. The moon shone through
the large window from the garden and he just sat down
in a pool of light.
Suddenly it felt as if there were
ants crawling along the inside of his skull, and his
ears rang with a strange sound. It was like nothing
he had ever experience before and it caused him to wince.
Now here was not exactly the
place I expected to find you, a voice said from
a place he was sure no-one had been occupying a second
All he could see was a silhouette
against the bright night outside, and he wasnt
exactly happy to see anyone.
Who are you? he demanded
coldly and a little brusquely.
My name is Raena, the
woman said calmly and turned so that he could see her
Now Methos had never been a religious
man, but the events of the night had given him some
faith. This, however, was even a bit much for him. He
scrambled to his feet in a most uncontrolled fashion
and actually backed away.
Why did you do this to me?
he was suddenly angry, and this Goddess was the only
person in the vicinity, at whom to lash out.
I didnt do anything
to you, the woman told him calmly and sat down
on one of the cushions in the room.
The trousers and the sword didnt
exactly fit with the image most people had of their
willowy, gentle Raena, but than who was to argue with
what a Goddess wanted to wear.
But ... but, the answer
to his question really put pay to the others in his
his companion put in quickly, you always have
been and it had nothing to do with me. You cant
die and now you have been killed for the first time
youll heal very quickly. That feeling you had
when I came in, thats a warning to you that there
is another Immortal around. This time, namely me.
This was all becoming a little confusing
and Methos wanted to backtrack slightly.
You are Her, arent you,
you are the Goddess? his shock had given way to
some intelligent questions.
Oh, Im Her, she
said as if she wasnt proud of the fact, the
only problem is, Her isnt a deity. Her is a mistake
from about three hundred years ago when this city was
no more than some houses by a ford.
This took some getting used to,
Methos had only just found religion, now he was being
told to loose it again. He stood there staring at Raena
for a long moment without saying a word.
Explain, he said cautiously.
Somewhere in the back of his mind
there was a little voice that actually believed the
stories of the Goddess and was telling him this was
some sort of test. It was difficult to dismiss it entirely
because, well religion was a matter of faith, wasnt
Im just like you,
she said slowly, and were not the only ones.
I lived here when the King was just a head man and the
biggest industry was a sheep farm.
The texts say you lived among
us and then revealed yourself to us, throwing out the
false gods that we worshipped, Methos was hedging.
Raena laughed at that, she seemed
Some oaf of a mercenary passes
through with his comrades, she told him as if
it was the most mundane thing, and decides he
wants a little fun. I told him where to go so he throws
me against a wall and my skull cracks open. A battle
is about to ensue over my dead body, between the men
of the town and the strangers and I wake up and scare
the horses. Everyone starts looking at me as if Im
Her smile had faded and she did
not look particularly happy about her past.
If you listen to people long
enough you start to believe what they say, she
explained very matter-of-factly, and when I didnt
age they proclaimed that I was the Goddess come to earth.
The most stupid thing I ever did was use the power they
gave me to try and help people. Once you become a deity
you cant step down. It was when they started trying
to persecute for heresy that I declared I was not who
they thought I was and left, but by then the religion
was well dug in. It was my mistake so I keep an eye
on things, but the only time Ive ever interfered
was when on High Priest felt like going in for virgin
Her simple straightforward tale,
was hard for Methos to accept, but it made more sense
than Goddesses and divine intervention.
So what do we Immortals do
with ourselves? he asked bluntly, he was in no
mood to hedge.
We live our lives, keep our
secret from Mortals, and kill each other, she
returned, just as forthrightly.
The killing bit stuck in her companions
Why do we kill each other
if its not permanent? he asked slowly.
Oh, it can be, she told
him evenly. Remove our heads from our shoulders
and we are very dead. If an Immortal kills another all
their power transfers in what we call a Quickening.
We live by rules, Methos, and our primary law is in
the end there can be only one.
She let the information sink in
and saw him become suddenly defensive. He was a man
from a world of intrigues and now he was not so sure
If there can be only one,
he said coldly, why didnt you try and kill
me when you first came in. I was an easy target and
you could have taken my head, I would not have resisted
A smile spread across Raenas
face and she patted her sword hilt fondly.
Its a lonely world when
your only friend is your sword, she said quietly,
its good to share time with another of your
own kind and pass on what you know. I have seen what
you did with your Mortal life, Methos and you are a
good man. I want you to come away with me, let me teach
you the rules of the Game as I was once taught them.
Its a big world, getting bigger all the time,
we can explore it together.
It was so tempting, but this soldier
had other worries just at the moment.
I cant leave them,
he said, his shoulders relaxing as he believed
her words. They are building a new order, they
will need my help.
She stood up then, and walked over
to him, a sadness in her eyes. She had been in his place
once and she knew the conflict that must be raging within
him. With strong, warriors hands she took his
shoulders and looked deep into his eyes.
This is not your fight anymore,
she said firmly and fixed him with her old gaze, you
are Immortal now, you must leave your old life behind.
But, he tried to contradict
No buts, my friend,
she told him honestly, you must go, either with
me or alone if you prefer, but you cannot stay. Do you
know what will happen?
She would not let him drop the eye
contact, she had to make him understand.
I do, were her brutal
words, because Ive been there. Theyll
make you their King, Methos. Do you want to rule? Then,
when they see that youre not ageing and theyll
declare that youre a God. Some will start to worship
you, others will hate them for it and there will be
bloodshed in my name and yours. Then if youre
still here theyll begin to hate you because they
cannot have what you have, Eternal life. Then one day
another Immortal will come to challenge you and one
of you will die. If you live, your worshipers will see
that you are not invulnerable and someone will try and
kill you. Theyll probably die as well, but eventually
someone will get you. Is that what you want, to see
everything you love die and become twisted? That is
what will happen, Methos, unless you leave.
The truth was hard, but it could
not be escaped when one who had seen its like
was doing the telling. This man, who only a few days
ago had thought only of bringing down the tyrants who
held his home, now saw a much bigger plan. He knew Raena
was speaking from her heart and he knew she was right.
Can I say goodbye? he
asked quietly, as if he were a child asking permission
from its mother.
They already know you are
alive, she told him calmly, which I had
hoped to avoid, so I cannot see the harm in it. I will
even play the Goddess if it will make it any easier.
I have heard to can back in my temple, so if I gave
you life, I can take it away again.
He nodded, it sounded like a good
The central core of the rebellion
were in the throne room when Methos walked back in,
and he arrived just in time to hear his name being mentioned
in conjunction with the word crown. He was suddenly
glad to have Raena standing in the doorway. An awe filled
silence fell as the men in the room saw the two so close
I have to go, Methos
said quietly, I have finished what I came back
You cant leave,
Sian found a voice in his youthful recklessness where
his elders were struck dumb, we want you to rule.
It was Raenas turn, in this
place, her word was law.
Mortals live but once, my
young friend, she said in a voice that sounded
almost holy, Methos was given a second life for
one purpose and that has been fulfilled. Would you deny
him eternity in my company so that he may be your King?
It was all perfectly true, but it
was vague enough to have another meaning. The young
man had no answer to that and tears stood out in his
Goodbye, Methos said
calmly and he was overcome by sorrow as Sian enveloped
him in a hug.
Why was leaving so painful?
Adam woke suddenly with the ache
of loss in his heart. His mind was full of memories
and such sweet agony, but even as he groped for the
faces of long past friends they faded away. These were
the things he only remembered in his buried subconscious
and they floated away like so much mist as the sun heats
the earth. He was left with a vague feeling of emptiness,
of having lost something important. It was not the first
time he had woken in the middle of the night as the
fog in his mind occasionally cleared, and he looked
at the clear sky through his window. The moon made him
smile as he almost saw the face of a woman he had once
loved. Then she too was gone and all he could do was
turn over and go back to arms of dream. Sometimes it
was hard not knowing, and yet at others it was sweet