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We have a total of 23 episodes, and they're all available if you follow the HFS link.


Part 1

Scene 1

The body of Richard Ryan remained where it stood until all three of his friends had moved out of sight, then it was walked away. The look on his face was one of satisfaction as his controller used him - the man inside was still fighting. Richie stopped once he had put some distance between himself and the headless body. A grimace of annoyance shrouded his features as the demon put down the human resistance for the umpteenth time. It was easy, but it made it no less a distraction.

{Why fight me, Boy? You cannot win,} the creature condescended, its amusement wavering now.

{Bastard,} Richie's own thoughts returned hotly as he gave his emotions vent the only way open to him. {Why are you doing this?!}

{MacLeod is my enemy, I will defeat him,} it replied almost whimsically, {and I like the idea of you killing him for me.}

{No!} the young man objected.

{You can't do anything else,} Richie felt himself laugh, but he bristled wordlessly as the dominator chose to gloat some more. {Why else do you think you're alive, Boy? I could have killed you already, you're hardly a challenge, but I want the ghost of Richie Ryan to haunt Duncan MacLeod for a little longer, I like his utter despair. Then you will demand his head. Oh the irony, as he mourns your death and relinquishes his guilty life to a ghost, it will be the real you who slices his troublesome head from his body.}

Ryan sagged at the triumph in the demon's manner and was allowed his body back for a few short moments. He sank down under the cover of the wall where he had stopped, cold at the confidence of the being which hung around and through him. He knew it was enjoying his horror, but the young Immortal didn't try to hide it. The influence was too close to him, it held as much of itself back from him as it pleased, but the barrier went only one way. He felt exposed, vulnerable. His thoughts drifted to the poor wretch that had suffered the same fate before him.

"Who was that?" he asked out loud, his tone subdued.

{An insignificant weakling, a bit like yourself,} his possessor didn't miss the chance for a dig. {My little disguise will last long enough to fool Dawson's men, then your body is going to disappear.}

The conversation stopped and Richie didn't pry any further - at that point he didn't want to know what was in store for his friends. Inside and out were almost silent, the immediate area being enclosed from the rest of the world, much as the psyche which could be swamped again with a single thought. The thing hovered at the back of his mind, merely observing the emotions of its host, probably learning.

Scene 2

How Joe had managed to get Duncan to the funeral home was a mystery to Methos. The ancient Immortal had spoken to the Highlander only once since Richie's death, and then he had only been able to extract the briefest of responses from the Scotsman. As it was, MacLeod didn't look as if he had eaten in days, but he'd obviously had a shower, whether from Joe's insistence or of his own volition was not clear. He had not even glanced at Methos on his way in.

Methos rose from his seat in the establishment's lobby, but the Highlander didn't even acknowledge him when he was a foot away from the pair. Joe just glanced over the blank-eyed individual's shoulder and shrugged at his comrade. Duncan continued to stare at the floor.

On recognition of a fellow Watcher, the dark-suited proprietor appeared from the back room. He greeted Joe with a solemn nod and a handshake, but Methos, as the deserter, merely accepted the disgruntled look he was given. The old man wasn't sure how much this new link in the secret society chain knew about him, but it was obviously enough to cast judgement.

"Hi Charles," Dawson finally spoke in low, muted tones, "we've come to pay our respects."

Although, to Methos, MacLeod didn't seem capable of paying anything, let alone respects.

"This way," the undertaker motioned towards an ornate set of doors.

One on each side, Joe and Methos steered their comrade after the reserved guide.

"The casket is in one of our side chapels, you will not be disturbed," Charles assured his clients as he led them down a wreath- decorated corridor.

As he walked along, Methos considered what purpose it served for them to be here. It would be a closed casket, of that he was certain. What was there to do here but prolong the tragedy? Duncan was in no state to comprehend any event, let alone the funeral preparations of his young protege. With so much past, the ancient had learned it was generally best to leave death rapidly behind, although, as his dear Alexa came to mind, he realised he too failed in this from time to time. This was a bad idea, that feeling was getting worse as they neared their destination. This was stupid, it hurt him more than he cared to admit. He'd only know the kid on and off through the Scot, but the impulsive, intense youth had made an impact on him none-the- less. The old man also recognised his own feelings of guilt -- whatever MacLeod's compulsions -- where had he been when they had both needed him? Maybe five thousands had made him selfish.

These feelings weren't healthy, especially in the current climate of uncertainty. This was an ill-conceived plan. It would serve no good, it certainly wasn't going to bring back the strong Highlander he had come to expect in his friend. The self-conscious Immortal came to a decision; as the heavy chapel door was opened by their attendant, Methos turned on his heel. However, the startled gasp from Joe halted any flight he had rashly contemplated. He froze as his suddenly alert gaze fell on the interior of the holy ground.

Instead of a serene place of rest, the chapel resembled more the site of a Quickening. Flowers from wreaths lay strew across the floor, their petals torn and trampled. A deep, oak coffin no longer rested on it's ornate stands, but was toppled on its side, the lid ripped open, revealing the white satin interior, the empty interior. The place had been desecrated and there was no body.

Dawson and Methos simultaneously turned to gauge Duncan's reaction, which was worringly cold. The man's face and demeanour gave away nothing as his eyes seemed to clinically examine the destruction. Shrugging off Joe's comforting hand on his shoulder, he slowly, almost passively, he walked forward into the tumult,. Methos couldn't stifle his alarm as he watched the irrational coolness in his friend, he hug back because of it. Events moved with an illogical sloth - was it imagination, or was Duncan really moving in such an unnatural manner?

Abruptly, the Highlander stopped. His gaze travelled down to his feet and something glinted in the fake candle ambience. Smoothly, the lithe figure sank into a crouch and metal scraped on wood as his fingers closed around his centre of attention. He stood once more, and stared hard at whatever was now enclosed in his grasp. Methos observed a tension build across his companion's shoulders. Yet, the old man still found himself at a loss for action.

Methos started, but just as suddenly, Duncan's hands fell limply to his sides, relinquishing the trophy. It clattered to the ground, but its ring was nothing compared to the sound which escaped the Highlander's mouth. Neither Joe, nor Methos were fast enough to catch their friend as, with the incoherent cry of anguish, he turned and bolted.

Dawson took a few reckless steps after MacLeod as fast as his legs would carry him, but Methos stopped him with an arm.

"Leave him," the ancient advised, "we need to find out what happened here."

Then he moved into the room, bending rapidly to retrieve the catalyst for Duncan's reaction. He sighed as he realised it was the plaque from the casket, it read, "In Loving memory, Richard Ryan." This was no accident; wheels were turning here. This, Methos was only just beginning to appreciate. Whatever was plaguing his friend, the ancient knew now that it wasn't unfounded madness.

Scene 3

There was a haze to the world, but even that could not blunt the edge of his grief and guilt. The Highlander stared at the almost empty malt whiskey bottle on his coffee table where it sat next to the razor-edged dagger. The sharpening stone lay discarded on the floor as his blurred attention fixed on the blade he had obsessively prepared. Each slice of the edge down the oiled block had seemed to strip away the catatonic denial which had shrouded him for days. The pain of his actions burned through what remained of that protection, he could no longer hide from himself. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod had murdered his protege; his remorse was overwhelming.

With a vicious swipe at the bottle, it smashed into the wall, the distraught man grabbed the dagger and stormed towards the door. He was furious with himself as with the world. He had to display his repentance.

The Highlander stared to the sky, his arms spread in supplication to whatever forces had brought him to this. Tears cascaded down his face. Then, with one rapid, almost cruel movement, he turned the knife on himself. His instincts returned to tribal traditions and in the white-hot fire of his agony, he sliced not Immortal flesh, which would leave no trace, but his long, black, warrior-mane. The first fistful of hair fell to the deck, and he continued until not one strand of his locks remained untouched. In a frenzy, he hacked at his head, remorselessly demonstrating his grief.

The heat of his emotions dying, he fell to his knees, exhausted by their attack. The man was drained, but in a last reverent action, he placed the blade amongst his fallen tresses. It was done, his shame was clear for all the world to see and judge. Action over, he fell once more into contemplation and his mind filled with images of his dead friend.

In the emptiness after the compulsive rage, another instinct slowly came over MacLeod: the nature of a warrior to know when hostile eyes were upon him. As the feeling grew, the Highlander could no longer ignore it. He turned from his internal desolation towards where his base reactions told him his observer would be.

All thought then stopped.

The distance between the figure and himself was insignificant as the accusing stare in cold blue eyes dug into his soul. Duncan's blood ran as ice-water as he saw the face from his thoughts. Yet, there was no ready smile on the young features, no welcoming wave, this was a spectre of his crime. Richie had returned to haunt him. The sound of the city was drowned by his own heartbeat as the Scot was drawn in by the hostile visage. The form stood on the bridge, cool and immobile, merely waiting. Waiting for what was yet irrelevant. The stare was the limit of communication as the Highlander beheld his own self-loathing embodied in the phantasm. MacLeod reached out to the apparition with one hand, needing something more, anything from this creature of his nightmares. Yet, retribution was not to be so kind; Richie merely turned his back and walked away. MacLeod wrapped his arms around himself and sobbed.

Scene 4

Watching, waiting, that's all he seemed to have done in the last two days since first tormenting the Highlander, and Richie was beginning to tire of the game his possessor was playing. The horror of the past week had almost led him several times to giving in, but each time the descent into madness had been halted by the thought of his friend. He had to stay sane for Duncan's sake, to fight this thing he could not comprehend. So he had battled the demon within. It had made little impact when his body had been used to trash the funeral home. When he'd carried Fisher's body away and dropped it in the river. He had felt for the poor man then, despite the glee this had inspired in his torturer. He had never known the first host, never known his motives, why an Immortal would associate himself with an eccentric archaeologist like Professor Landry, but still there was an empathy between them.

Now he, Richard Ryan, was the living embodiment of the Evil -- helpless, a lonely puppet. Foster had had money, which had paid for an expensive hotel-suite, but being surrounded by luxury made little difference to the hell in which the young man was trapped. His eyes looked out at the world for two, with the interloper leaving him weak and desolate. He knew little of this creature and its lust for anguish in others. Yet it remained close to him, intimately so, using, abusing, there seemed no end to it.

If removing Foster had caused him horror, it was nothing compared to staring down a guilt-ridden MacLeod. His mentor and friend was being tormented for a crime never committed. It was almost harder observing what was happening to Duncan than living with the entity itself. The two agonies remained comparable, a possession he had no power to combat and the seeds sewn by that terrible union. Relentlessly, an automaton, controlled by the supernatural force, the young man had made one appearance after another, always to the solitary Clansman. The torment had separated MacLeod from both Joe and Methos, until it had reduced him to nothing more than a wretched shell. By now, he was so far withdrawn he mirrored his protege's helplessness, only he had a kinder puppet-master in Joe Dawson. The Watcher was trying to reach his buried comrade, but had so far only managed to stem the physical manifestations of the Highlander's condition.

Now the mortal and his Immortal ward were in the barbers, recovering a hairstyle from the mess of grief Richie had witnessed. The young man, the demon in control, was hovering outside, never far away, vigilant for any opportunity to raise the vengeful shade of Richard Ryan once more. Yet, this time he carried a blade as part of the Evil's undisclosed plan.

Over the days, Richie had learned that questioning did no good and usually brought more pain, but the new development of the weapon caused him concern enough to break silence.

{Why did you bring the sword?} the captive individual asked anxiously.

{Vengeance is nearly upon us, Boy,} the Evil returned cheerfully.

{On a busy street, in broad daylight?!} Richie tried to stall his enemy.

Yet his motives were as obvious to the creature as they were to himself, and it laughed, explaining condescendingly, {We're only giving The Highlander the message. The End Game comes later.}

That was a little relief to Ryan, but it evaporated as the door to the salon opened. The young body was sunk into the shadows of an alleyway as both psyches watched those who emerged from within the premises. The Scot's dark locks were now cut and brushed, but it was a presentable sham of normality next to the vacant-eyed stare of the lost. He obeyed meekly as Joe led them across the road and stood statuesque by the curb as Dawson hailed them a taxi.

Now was the time - the apparition stepped out of the hiding place; as if he'd been expecting him, Duncan turned and looked up at the ghost. This was not the Immortal call, they were too far apart, it was something more intimate, between a man and his nemesis. The world dropped away again and Richie couldn't help himself as he screamed silently against the unnatural bondage. Yet, externally, the spectre deliberately reached inside his jacket and pulled out the blade nestled there. Duncan seemed beyond physical reaction as he watched the demonstration, and the confirmation of a horrible suspicion only showed in his stare. The message had been delivered, cold, silent, and so the phantom stepped back into another world.

He was being jeered at, but still Richie screamed at his possessor. The physical body walked leisurely away from the scene, but the resignation Ryan had seen in his friend's eyes could not so easily be left behind. The horror was inescapable and drove him to selfless rage. It didn't matter that the consequences of this outburst would be unpleasant as the Entity would make him suffer later, it was his only means of protest. He knew hatred.

Scene 5

The light danced off the well-crafted sheen on the new blade, as the Evil twirled it in Richie's palm. The knife was elegant, a long crisp blade hilted by a jet black grip. Not very practical, too long really for a concealed weapon and too lethal for a letter-opener; with the demon in control of his body and nothing better to do, Ryan mused over its purpose. Why had he gone into the store and bought this showy toy? His permanent travelling companion had revealed nothing but amusement as it had walked their body back to the expensive hotel suite. 'Their body', it felt strange thinking like that, but it was more or less true and was a better concept for the trapped young man than the idea of total domination for the rest of whatever life he had left.

So now he'd been sitting, staring at the reflective metal for ten minutes as another used his senses to experience the weapon. He could feel the point pushing into the skin of his left index finger, not quit breaking the skin, only enough to keep the blade steady as it was rotated in the golden sunlight. He squinted as the rays sliced across his retinas, prickling painfully. The entity laughed like a child at the reaction it appeared to have allowed, but was more interested in experiencing the weight of the dagger in his hand.

{What's so damn funny?} Richie questioned tersely, his emotions piqued by the way his body still giggled in delight at the new toy.

"This invention is exquisite," he talked to himself in the silence of the room. "Humans have such imagination when it comes to harming themselves, and this is so lethally simple."

Ryan refused to focus his next thought - he really didn't want to hold a conversation with the Thing; he always came off feeling worse and it sometimes revealed more of itself than he could handle. He regretted the silent outburst as now he'd drawn attention to himself, the demon was not going to let him lie. It paused to examine his psyche - Richie had always thought sickness was a physical thing, but he felt it despite having no control over his tangible state. The young man had chosen to save what was left of his fight for a time when it would be useful, so he took the violation passively. The trapped mind recognised something near disappointment in his adversary and he couldn't hide the confusion it caused him.

{No shouting match today, mentally speaking of course?} the creature taunted. {You know, at first it was annoying, but since I've become accustomed to you, I've been finding it quite fun.}

{Just leave me alone,} the young man tried without much hope of success.

His face broke into a wicked grin as the primary force worked its host.

{So lame, Richie,} the bait was dangled in front of him, but the tired man would not bite; the demon's response was both on a physical and mental level as it told its prisoner, {Let's see it I can't reach you this way.}

Ryan sat forward, made to by the puppet-master, his left hand placed flat on the beautifully polished wooden table. His fingers splayed open without his consent and his right hand took the knife in a firmer fist, directing the point down at the fine oak.

{This is a very self-destructive game,} the being observed as it lifted the dagger above his hand, {but I think I'll enjoy it.}

The blade descended rapidly to break the veneer just to the right of Richie's thumb. The Evil sniggered, Ryan tried to stifle his consternation.

"Let's play," the dominator breathed with excitement.

The young man shrunk away from the feel of his own body as the point bounced between his fingers. He'd always been a little reckless, but as he was shown the almost careless stabbing action, he reached the extent of that trait in his character. The first pass across his hand and back was fairly safe, the blade touching down at the widest spread of his fingers. Yet, as the being paused a moment to let him take in the rush of adrenaline that the game inspired in his body, the young man knew it could only get worse.

{No!} he remonstrated as he felt the prickle of familiar amusement from the sadistic controller.

{Too hot for your blood, Tiger?} the sneer cut back.

The blade slid between his first and second fingers on it's second pass. The young man huffed as the razor's edge sliced into his flesh and the pain of the gash reached his brain. It was a funny feeling to be allowed the expression, but his host seemed to allow it in the same way as it had done the reaction to sharp sunlight.


{-op,} the prisoner began to word his complaint, but it finished within as the demon chose to take over once more.

His body had paused, tensing as the Immortal reacted, but the machine-crafted point began its caper once more as the wound sparked and healed to nothing. Faster, it jigged between his vulnerable flesh, blinding him as the light glanced off, faltering if the rays stung his eyes, sometimes giving him a moment to gasp when the knife pierced his skin and made the second of discomfort last that bit longer. Times of mock freedom, a snatched clench of muscles merely in spasm against the pain, angry and hurting, Richie began to fight back. He centred all his being on stopping the ghastly play much to the delight of his taunter.

{No!} Ryan protested once more even as his hands kept up the pointless and increasingly haphazard knife sport.

{Ah ah,} his master chided derisively, {the more you distract me the more likely I am to make a mistake.}

It was no slip which then caused the blade to take a large chunk out of the inside of Richie's thumb. The being laughed even as it left the puppet under his own control to yelp and pull the dagger away. Still, moments later as the sting died with the blue flash which marked healing, the tormentor began once more. His body laughed as the blade slammed down onto the ruined veneers on the far side of his hand, then Richie screamed as with a last moment of control, the Evil slashed the cutting edge across the back of the exposed hand. It was a cruel release, and the young man's cry turned to a groan. He shuddered away the tearing hurt, breathing hard as his flesh complained mercilessly, sickened as much by the scornful laughter that sat at the back of his mind, growing stronger with each second that the pain ebbed away. His possessor was slower to return this time, biding a while, holding back from the discomfort, merely observing the very human experience.

Ryan was angry, both at the way he'd been unnecessarily used and the creeping strands of control which he could do nothing to stop from slithering back into his senses. As his body left his reach once more, grinning coldly and sitting back in the deep desk chair, the enraged prisoner took his chances and let rip.

{Pain not your scene?} Richie concluded hotly, his attention now well and truly gained.

{That's all yours,} the demon returned glibly, holding its host's hand up in front of his face for inspection of the rapidly disappearing cut. {Emotional torment, now I enjoy that, but the physical side of things I leave to you corporeals.}

The young man couldn't stop the deduction forming in his brain - his controller laughed as it read the thought and condescended, {A new way to fight me, Boy? Only problem is, I control the pain, you merely experience it. I can command your body twenty four hours a day if I so choose. You amuse me, Richie, you really do, you're bright, hot- tempered and you have such interesting ideas. That's the reason that at the moment, I give you some time of your own. Vex me with these silly notions though, and I'll take 100% control of you before you've even had time for a breath towards anything.}

The demon put down the dagger, stood up and walked over to the bed. With Its point made, it released its victim. Richie heeded the well- aimed threat and merely sunk down onto the mattress, pushing away the thoughts of resistance for the time being. Still, he filed the information away as he closed his eyes and called on slumber.

Scene 6

The wind ripped across the barge chilling his bones, but Joe Dawson just pulled his coat around his body, because there was no way he was going back inside. The atmosphere below was far colder than even the North wind. He'd left MacLeod sitting on the couch, driven away by the chill silence, unable to cope with it any longer. The man he had come to know and respect, no longer seemed to exist. His friend did not speak even in response to direct questions. If he'd remained further, the man had feared that his frustration would have led to a damaging explosion of his emotions. He'd needed space, so he had fled. Yet he would never again desert the Highlander completely.

It had felt like he was waiting alone below, and so now he really did wait alone above. He was anticipating Methos' imminent return. Since the destruction of the chapel, the old Immortal had been following any and all leads to what he perceived as the undercurrents of their present situation. He was like a dog with a bone, hard, defensive and, in his own way, desperate to resolve the quandary. Joe had rarely felt more alone among people he considered friends. One dead, one withdrawn beyond all reach, and the other hidden behind a wall of action. Joe would have done anything to have even one of them back. Yet they all remained out of reach, Richie lost forever, Duncan trapped in grief indefinitely, and Methos isolated inside his temporary hive of activity.

After a Watcher source had turned up a police report on a headless body dragged from the Seine, Methos had rushed off on one of his many errands of the past few days, leaving Joe to try and check out the corpse through Watcher channels. Despite being a player in the Ancient Immortal's present game, he felt no closer to the old man as he waited to pool information. He had little idea of the conclusions Methos was drawing from his current investigations - their conversations had been little more than one-way debriefings. This time, he resolved to find out exactly what the industrious man had learned.

Dawson didn't have long to wait to realise his goal, as, shortly, he spotted his comrade charging down the wharf. The drive in the young- faced Immortal was much more obvious than usual, and the transparent edge to Methos did not make Joe feel any better. In the past he had wished to see what made this individual tick, but now, it was just another burden. The extra anxiety galvanised the Watcher's need for answers and he dispensed with a greeting, moving straight into a question. As Methos strode up the gang-plank, Joe asked directly, "So, was it Richie's body?"

The immediacy of the inquiry halted Methos on the deck, and he stared blankly at his comrade for a moment, hands in pockets.

"No," he finally answered, apparently accepting the conclusions of his motives Joe had inferred, "have you come up with any names?"

"There have been no Immortal battles recorded in or around Paris in the last month," Joe informed him.

"Well, this was definitely an Immortal MO," came the unusually free exchange of information. "The coroner's report said he'd been killed by a single slice of a very sharp blade. So, unless we have two Immortals, both unknown to Watchers, in Paris at the same time who just happen to have met and fought, which is very unlikely, then the only other conclusion is that that's the body MacLeod beheaded."

The Watcher blinked as deductions fired rapidly in his brain. Yet, the only statement to escape his mouth was a lame, "Duncan killed Richie."

Methos stood for a moment, obviously considering how to phrase his next sentence. Joe waited, his emotions hanging on his companion's imminent words.

"What if that wasn't Richie?" the syllables were crisp, but hushed.

Dawson couldn't quite comprehend what he was hearing and doubt protected him from dangerous hope.

"But we both saw the body," he protested, "and if it wasn't Richie, then where the hell is he?"

"I don't know," Methos admitted, but it seemed to Joe that there were some horrendous ideas sitting at the back of his friend's eyes.

The man rebelled against the conclusions he saw there and stated hotly, "I can't deal with you going off the deep end as well!"

The unwavering nature of Methos's stare told Joe that he probably didn't want to hear what was coming. Yet, the mortal had faced too much frustration to back out now, whatever the consequences.

"I'm not crazy," Pierson disclosed and the other man braced himself for revelation, "but I think the demon may be real."

Joe surprised himself by not rejecting the idea out of hand, he merely sagged a little and continued to listen.

"Duncan was seeing dead people," Methos rationalised, "but he was fighting what he was seeing, Even Richie saw something - he saw you and Horton together when you were here with us. I would have said it was all a very Earthly trick until the body disappeared. Then I began to wonder why. What purpose could stealing the body serve? I've been researching ever since. There's enough evidence to suggest that this thing is a real force, even the Watcher Chronicles mention it. Every thousand years I've dismissed what I've heard as superstition, but now some of it is making sense.

"What if Duncan beheaded an Immortal who was surrounded by an illusion of Richie?"

Joe's expression still showed doubt.

"Look, I know it's a long shot," Methos pressed intensely, "but you know me, Joe. I don't make conclusions like this easily. Think about it. MacLeod would keep on fighting forever unless his faith was destroyed. What would be one of the most definite ways of doing that?" the Immortal posed the question.

It hung in the air between them for a moment, Methos waiting, Joe pondering. Still not convinced, Dawson concluded, "But then it was Richie."

"No, Joe," Methos replied pointedly, "even now there's a possibility MacLeod would fight back, it's our nature. But who, without a doubt, without need for illusion, would be the one person he would never lift a sword to again?"

A creeping horror seeped into Joe as he came to the same conclusions as his companion.

Scene 7

It wasn't pleasant to wake up and find your body already on the move. The physical side of things had taken Richie to a sitting position by the time his conscious thought had caught up with what the demon was commanding. The Evil couldn't do much with him asleep, but it didn't take much to wake him.

{Time to kill MacLeod,} came the cheerful announcement.

{I won't do it!} Richie objected vehemently.

As usual, his reaction inspired only gleeful amusement. The demon was in high spirits and flooded Ryan with horrible anticipation as it returned, {Glad to have some fight back. I do so enjoy our tete-a- tetes. Ineffectual of course, but so entertaining.}

Totally without his consent, Richie progressed immediately to the bathroom. Yet the put down had little influence on the young man's psyche as his desperation mounted, but then again, his controller wasn't expecting him to give up that easily. His familiar laugh rang in the hollow-sounding room as he hurled back his only weapon, a fountain of silent words. The stream of discontent was fairly incoherent, merely an expression of the tumult in his emotions. The mundane tasks about which his body was going seemed an insult compared with the magnitude of for what he was being prepared. As he was undressed and walked into the shower by his master, his diatribe finally gained coherence in the angry and frightened objection, {Why can't you just get it over with?!}

The admission of imminent defeat merely encouraged a gloat from the demon and it chided lightly, {Oh don't stop now, Boy, your adjectives were becoming so colourful.}

{Damn you!} Richie hissed.

{Too late,} the entity commented and had him pick up the soap.

The shower was hot and wet; Richie tried not to think about anything, but when his waist was wrapped in a towel and he was staring at himself, but not his expression, in the bathroom mirror, the emptiness deserted him.

{What's the point in this?} he asked plaintively as he involuntarily opened the shaving foam.

It was a question about the whole, but the Entity chose to address the lowest level in it's glib mood.

{Come now, we can't have a vengeful ghost turning up unpresentable, can we?} it chirped.

The superficial attitude of his controller flared a new rage in the young Immortal. As his body picked up the razor, the Evil continued to goad Richie with, {We want you looking as boyish as possible. Those angelic baby blues are going to be the undoing of Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.}

The taunts hit their mark with an intensity which was the demon's first mistake. It underestimated the pot of emotion within the trapped psyche, and the eruption distracted it just enough for the razor to slip. The blade dug into flesh and with the pain came an instant of release. At another time, Richie's reactions would not have been fast enough, but spurred on by desperation, he took the chance. It was more instinct than thought which sped his fist straight into the mirror. The silvered surface shattered and shards fell into the sink, staining the water where Ryan's blood washed off them. White hot agony lanced up the young man's arm from smashed bones and sliced flesh of his fingers. This held the entity in retreat, and without pausing, he grabbed a splinter of glass and wrapped his hand firmly around it. Yet, this freedom would not last forever, even as he reeled with the pain, Richie felt his controller inching its way back. He cursed Immortal healing as he staggered out of the bathroom desperately looking for some permanent weapon. His eyes fell on the window. His limbs already leaden as the internal battle ensued, Richard Ryan too his only action - he dived for the window.

The smashing of glass was the only sound of a body falling as the mental fight robbed Richie of a scream. He felt his freedom evaporate, but it was too late, he was descending, he would die. The creature was beaten, it could not face death. The Evil was banished. Richie's last experience before oblivion was total autocracy.

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