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Part 3

Scene 2 0

"You're sure is was a good idea?" Methos said sarcastically and smiled at Amanda.

For her part the female Immortal did not look particularly happy, but then her plan seemed to be falling around her ears. Gall and Cressida had been in the office for ten minutes, and they were into their third shouting match. The four local Immortals were sitting on the benches next to the wall bars trying not to look interested in what was going on so close beside them.

"They're in love, I know they are," Amanda insisted with a pout, "why can't they just admit it."

"Ever heard of the can't live with, can't live without principle?" it was Richie's turn to be scathing, he was not at all pleased with his female friend.

"And did you have to bring her here?" Duncan was just annoyed that there was a loud argument going on in his office.

Amanda just glared at them all and decided to sulk for a while.

Scene 2 1

"Look," Gall was trying to moderate the level of his voice, but Cressida's refusal to believe the truth was frustrating, "for the last time, I cannot, and I mean cannot, be the father of your child. I've explained exactly why, and I will not be accused of something I could not have done!"

His companion looked as if she was on the verge of tears, but she was not about to give up. She had come too far to let him get away from her now.

"But Nana Maggie said you were the one," it was all she had left, the core of her belief, and the last thing she could use in her defence.

There was total silence, and four heads looked up from the other room. Gall just stood there staring at Cressie, a completely stunned expression on his face. It was not amazement at why his companion believed what she did, that could not have brought such a total stop to all rational thought, it was something else. The young Irish woman looked a little surprised by Gall's reaction as well.

"What did she tell you?" he asked eventually, his voice quiet and slow.

He could not be the father, Immortal's could not have children, a hard and fast rule, but just for a second he doubted it. For a tiny moment in time he let himself consider it, but then logical thought kicked in.

"That you're the father," Cressie replied almost meekly.

"No," Gall insisted slowly, "exactly what did she tell you ... the words?"

His companion looked confused by his question, but she tried to answer it anyway.

"She said `Gall is the best one to be the father'," the red head told him quietly.

The bard looked completely amazed, and he opened his mouth but no words came out. He just turned from Cressida and opened the door, as if he had forgotten that she was there. The other four Immortals stood up as he walked towards the main entrance, an expression of complete indecision on his face.

"I'll be back," he said quietly, and then vanished round the corner.

The group of friends looked at each other, the place where the bard had been last seen, and at a lost looking Cressida.

"I'm going after him," Richie said quickly, and nobody tried to dissuade him.

"I'll look after that," Amanda said , and took the harp from where Methos had left it, "and I think Cressida needs a woman's touch."

The look she sent the two remaining men said they were not welcome, and they prudently decided that upstairs was a good place to be.

Scene 2 2

They didn't appear to be going anywhere as Richie followed Gall down the street, in fact they were almost going in circles, but the younger Immortal was not going to raise the point. The look of complete self absorption on his companion's face was enough to keep anyone quiet. It was only when the Irishman turned down a blind alley and came up against a wall, that he actually seemed to realise he wasn't alone. He stopped just short of walking into the brickwork, and turned a rather surprised expression on his friend.

"Do you know where we are?" he asked quite suddenly.

"About three blocks from the dojo," Richie supplied helpfully.

"Good, because I don't," the other replied a little absently.

He was beginning to drift again, if the younger Immortal wanted any sense out of him, he was going to have to jump in with both feet.

"I don't mean to pry," he started quickly, "but why did you stop protesting?"

The question seemed to pull the bard out of his own musings somewhat, and at last the look in his eyes was something other than absent. It was an improvement, but that didn't seem to be any guarantee at the moment.

"Nana Maggie," Gall told his friend, "the old witch told Cressie that I was the best one to be the father."

Richie didn't quite follow, the term `old witch' wasn't exactly polite, so why her involvement should have an effect on the Irishman was a little difficult to deduce.

"I'm sorry," the younger man said slowly, "but you don't sound like that should change much."

Now Gall looked confused.

"Old witch?" Richie elaborated.

Much to the younger man's surprise, the bard laughed.

"Oh no," he said quickly, "she really is a witch, and she's old ... ninety two actually. I've known her all her life, in fact I've known her family for over a thousand years. She knows what I am, and so do her children and grandchildren. She's psychic ... the gift passes to one member of the family each generation. I finally know why Cressie is so sure I'm the father, Nana Maggie is about the only person I'd believe as well. The thing is, she didn't tell her I was the father, she told her that I was the best one to be the father. Maggie obviously thinks I should marry Cressie."

Richie wasn't convinced and it must have shown on his face because Gall picked up on it.

"She's never been wrong," the bard said with a certainty that rather reminded his companion of the look in Cressida's eyes.

It was probably not the time to challenge that belief, so Richie moved swiftly on.

"Does Cressida know anything about Immortals, even just a suspicion?" he asked rapidly.

"Not a clue," Gall admitted and realised where his friend was going, "I suppose I'd have to explain ... everything."

"How do you think she'll take it?" was the next enquiry.

A small smile played across the bard's face.

"Knowing Cressie, she'd shout and scream for a while, and then accept it as if she knew all along," he replied.

Richie wasn't sure what was crazier, Gall changing his whole outlook on life because of the word of an `old witch', or considering helping him do it.

Scene 2 3

"Are you going to tell me what you think you know about Gall?" Duncan asked for the tenth time.

The look on Methos' face said that he was not even going to consider answering that question, and he levelled his most infuriatingly condescending gaze on his companion.

"Pick another subject, MacLeod," he said evenly and smiled. "How's your Greek philosophy?"

Duncan stood up and stalked over to the counter, the least he could do was take out some of the frustration on some vegetables for lunch. Methos was at his most mysterious, and there was no way through that smoke screen. Methos had gone back to contemplating his beer as MacLeod deserted him, and the glare the Highlander was sending to the back of Methos' head should have drilled a hole into it.

The ancient man smiled to himself as he heard some very determined chopping begin. He liked being that one step ahead, and he wasn't going to broadcast his information to anyone. They both felt another Immortal enter the building, but neither chose to comment--Methos couldn't be bothered, and Duncan had decided he wasn't talking to his friend unless he had to. What neither expected next was the piercing scream that cut through the entire building only a few seconds later.

"That was Cressida," Duncan said without the merest hesitation, and both Immortals dashed for the stairs.

They reached the dojo just in time to hear the screech of tyres as a car vanished into the distance. There was no sign of anyone in the gym and both men wandered into the open cautiously, carrying their swords. It was MacLeod who spotted the blood covered hand sticking out from behind the door to the office.

"Amanda," he whispered under his breath, and hurried over.

His lover was lying in a pool of her own blood, a large hole in her chest over her heart. There was not much doubt as to what had killed her. Cressida and the harp were gone.

Scene 2 4

"It's really very simple," Gall was trying to explain to his companion exactly why he was having radical thoughts about his way of life. "I've been running away from her because I thought I could never be a good father. I've tried to settle down, but it only lasts a few months before I find myself packing up, yet if Maggie thinks I can do it, then I have to consider it."

"If you say so," Richie replied, he had enough strangeness recently to take this at face value. "The thing is, are you absolutely sure that Cressida isn't going to freak out? No offence, but she's not exactly the stable sort."

It was when he looked at his friend to assess if that would be taken the wrong way, that the young Immortal realised he'd lost Gall again. The bard had turned round and was staring in the direction of the dojo, in fact, the route Richie had just been about to suggest they take. There was an expression on the old Immortal's face that sent a shiver down his compatriot's spine, and suddenly the younger man felt that he was in the presence of someone who had seen every second of over two thousand years. The gaze was so stark, as if a mask had dropped away and there was the real person.

One second Gall was totally motionless, and the next he was running. Richie had to put in a large burst of speed just to keep up with him.

Scene 2 5

There was a pile of ruined clothes in the waist bin, and Amanda had opted for a completely black outfit that suited the mood in MacLeod's loft. The Highlander himself wanted to ring Joe, to find out who had walked into his dojo, shot his lover, and kidnapped his guest. He was not in the greatest frame of mind to say the least, but Gall didn't know about Watchers, and so they had to distract him first.

For his part the bard was withdrawn and uncommunicative, almost a completely different person to the lively, outgoing man of the previous evening. He had listened to Amanda explain how a stranger had walked in, aimed a gun at her and just pulled the trigger, and he had said nothing. No one had tried to understand how he had known to return to the dojo, and they couldn't get more than two words out of him. There seemed to be a fury building behind his eyes, and it was almost frightening to watch.

"If we split up we might be able to find out where he took her," Richie suggested from where he was perched on the sofa.

"This is a big city," Duncan pointed out as gently as he could, "covering it all could take days. If he's taken Cressida and the harp then he's bound to try and bargain for them, we just have to make sure we're ready when he calls."

Gall obviously couldn't take the conversation because he stood up rapidly and walked to the window.

"We can't just sit here," for once Amanda was with the youngest member of the group, she was not in the mood for waiting.

All four of them looked at the phone at the same time, and then at the bard's tense back. They all knew who might be able to give them a head start.

"I'm going to kill him," it was almost a growl that came from Gall's lips and interrupted the others' trains of thought, "I'll take the bastard apart piece by piece."

He spun on the spot as if he was going to leave, but Richie was faster and put himself in the way.

"You don't have a sword," the young Immortal pointed out slowly, "and you don't know how to use one. This guy who's after you isn't going to play patticake."

The gaze that turned on him was full of hatred, and could have frozen hell, but slowly it melted. Richie's words reached the part of his friend's brain that was still rational, and he knew they were true. The calculating fury was replaced by a confused helpless look, and it was almost like having the old Gall back.

"We'll think of something," the blond, young man promised faithfully.

Scene 2 6

"His name's Kismet Poole," MacLeod told Richie and Amanda as he put the phone down, "and he's a calculated hunter. Joe says they thought he'd beheaded Gall when he disappeared from Ireland. By all accounts he researches his victims very well, and he thinks the harp and Cressida are Gall's weaknesses."

"What could a musical instrument have to do with a challenge?" the youngest of the group had trouble understanding that. "No one is that attached to a thing, not even Gall."

The expression on Amanda's face said she agreed with Richie, it seemed like an eccentric thing to do.

"There are legends about the harp, and about Gall," MacLeod now knew far more than he ever wanted to about the bard--Joe had been very informative. "According to Watcher records the harp is allegedly what gives him the ability to mesmerise people. There are stories about a warrior who became a bard, and in return for peaceful existence was given the gift of music. Now it's assumed that Gall just happened to appear at the right time to spark these legends, but if Poole believes them, then his actions are logical. With a name like his, this Immortal is bound to be superstitious."

"Question is," Richie said with more practicality than he usually showed, "do the Watchers know where we can find him, whatever his personal beliefs may be?"

"Joe's going to check and call back," the Highlander told them , "until then, there's not a lot we can do."

It was not much, but at least it was better than how it had been. Waiting was not something any Immortal was particularly good at when it came to the Game, and no one appeared very happy.

Scene 2 7

The sound of footsteps on a wooden floor was beginning to irritate Methos, but there was no sign that Gall was going to stop pacing in the near future. If his expression was anything to go by, the Immortal was getting more agitated by the second, and at least if he was pacing he wasn't breaking things. Fifteen minutes earlier Methos had suggested they go for a walk so that the other's could contact Joe, but the pair had only gotten as far as the dojo. Ever since, Gall had been stalking up and down mumbling to himself every now and then.

"You should try and calm down," the ancient Immortal seemed to find his companion's current state fascinating, but he was still practical. "Believe me, if anyone can help you it's Duncan MacLeod. He may be a bit of a boy scout, but he's the best chance you've got."

"I can't calm down," the bard spat back, and stopped pacing for a fraction of a second, "I've never felt like this before. I don't kill Adam, I never have, but I want this Immortal so badly. It's like something tryin' to claw it's way from inside me, and I can't stop it."

The footsteps started again as he put his energy into something other than the anger that would not go away. There were two ideas battling for supremacy in the young looking Irishman, and Methos could not help but notice. This was almost a different man from the person the ancient Immortal had met that morning, even the depressed individual from later had not been the same. Something radical had shifted in Gall, and Methos wanted to know what it was.

The ancient man wandered over to the window for a moment, trying to think of a question that wouldn't give away what he already knew. He wanted to see inside Gall's psyche, but he had to be careful. There was a delicate balance to be maintained, in his current mental condition, Gall might even be dangerous. It was as this thought crossed his mind that Methos realised the pacing had stopped. There was no sound of boots on floor, in fact there was no sound at all. If he'd lost Gall, Duncan was going to kill him.

With a quick swear under his breath he turned, hoping that his companion had just decided to sit down, he was very surprised by what he saw: there was a chair coming directly for his head, and there was nothing he could do about it. The last thing he saw was a face that was all too familiar, bearing an expression that he remembered very clearly.

Scene 2 8

The first the Immortals upstairs knew of what had gone on below them was when a very annoyed Methos stormed through the door.

"The bastard stole my sword," he almost bellowed, "hit me over the head with a chair and took my blade."

"A chair?" Richie couldn't help himself, he had to be sure he heard right.

"Yes, you know," Methos shot back sarcastically, "big thing with legs, made of wood. It's very hard."

There was blood all over his shirt, from the spread pattern the blow had probably broken. Of course he was perfectly all right now, but he was extremely pissed off.

"The stupid idiot," was what Amanda decided to say, "he's going to get himself killed."

"I doubt it," Methos growled, but no one really heard since the phone picked that moment to ring.

MacLeod made a dive for the receiver and listened intently as soon as he heard the voice on the other end. It didn't take much intelligence to realise it must be Joe on the other end.

"Thanks," the Highlander said quickly, "Gall's gone AWOL, but we'll get there first."

He turned to the others the moment he put the phone down.

"According to current information, Poole's holed up in an old theatre down town," the Scotsman explained rapidly. "We better get moving."

Methos wanted to grab his friends and tell them they were probably wasting their time, but he held his tongue and followed them out the door.

Scene 2 9

The man who walked into what had been the Caprice Theatre, was not exactly the picture of a helpless musician. His expression was set in stone, and he moved like a warrior, not an artiste. The sword in his hand was held with a skill that should not have been there, and there was something very dangerous about him.

As this menacing individual threw the doors open to the main auditorium, the first thing he saw was Cressida, tied to an old piece of scenery in the centre of the stage. The harp was displayed beside her, but then they were the bait, and they had brought the prey. Poole was not a man who believed in traps, and he stood near his captive, sword drawn, just waiting.

"Welcome, Bard," the dark eyed man greeted with a smile, "I thought you'd be able to find us."

"Of course," Gall replied icily.

"Not thinking of trying to talk me out of our battle are you?" Poole enquired lightly.

By the look of the man in front of him, that scenario was very unlikely.

"Now why would I want to do that?" the Irishman spat back.

"And you do have a sword," Kismet observed, "I didn't think all the stories about you could be true."

"I borrowed it," came the cold reply.

This time the other Immortal chose not to comment, and instead jumped off the stage into the aisle; the aisle where Gall stood. He was obviously assessing his opponent, but how dangerous could a man be, who's reputation said he'd never taken a head. This would be over soon, and then he'd just let the girl go and vanish back into the world.

"Shall we begin?" Poole said calmly and raised his sword.

"Whenever you're ready," Gall told him and took up a stance he shouldn't have known.

Cressida had been silent throughout the entire conversation, but at the first clash of metal she screamed through the gag Poole had placed in her mouth. Two men were actually hacking at each other with real swords, and she didn't want this to be happening. In nightmares, people woke up when they screamed, anything to stop the bad dream, but of course it had no effect. The combatants ignored her as they parted after the first attack, and each assessed what they had learned about their adversary.

"You've done this before," Kismet said lightly.

"Seems I must have," the bard responded, "but it's been a while."

Poole came at Gall with a right thrust, and the Irishman side-stepped with reflexes that had nothing to do with playing instruments. He saw an opening, and with a nasty grin he took a swipe at his opponent's leg. His blade tasted first blood and a killing lust entered his eyes. The Immortal Poole now stared at was nothing like the gentle bard who sang for a living, he was a killer, and the danger shone in his face.

With each blow he seemed to change more, and when Kismet finally landed a return blow, Gall just drew back with an evil smile. He touched the cut on his arm and actually laughed. There was no fear in him at all, and Poole realised he had an opponent who was enjoying the battle. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be at all: he was meant to be a pathetic weakling who's mesmeric gifts would not work on a man as strong willed as Kismet. Instead his opponent was a devious warrior, a man who seemed to almost be playing with his adversary.

"What's the matter," Gall taunted the other Immortal, "don't I quite fit the description?"

There was a joy in his eyes, and he took pleasure in every stroke. They danced around for a few more minutes, the Irishman beginning to show just how much better he was with a sword than Poole expected. The thing was, he was far superior to his opponent, and there was going to be only one outcome to this fight. A few more nicks on the other Immortal and then finally there was a real opportunity. With the speed of a tiger Gall moved through the other man's defence and pushed his sword into Poole's side. He withdrew quickly and the blood that poured out of the wound showed it was a fatal blow. All he had to do now was wait.

Kismet looked surprised, but he knew he had been beaten by a better sword arm.

"How did you keep it a secret?" he knew he had lost and his head was forfeit, but he wanted to know this one thing.

He fell to his knees, his blade falling from fingers that no longer had the strength to hold it.

"How?" he asked again as blood filled his mouth.

"I didn't," Gall hissed back and raised his sword.

The killing blow would be swift, and the blade glinted in the light as it was held aloft. There was death in the bard's eyes as he gazed at his helpless challenger, and then Kismet fell forward, dying. The expression on the Immortal's face just before death took him said that he knew he would not be waking up, and it hit Gall hard. Suddenly the rage seemed somehow not really part of him, and the enjoyment in killing evaporated. These were not emotions he felt, the bard hated death in all it's forms, he celebrated life, he didn't know what he was doing. The sword felt wrong in his hand and the battle seemed to have been part of someone else's world.

This wasn't him, he didn't want to be the person that could do these things and take pleasure in them. Where the blood lust came from he didn't know, who this presence was that had been quiet for over two thousand years, he could not discern. This psyche was not part of him that had anything to do with his present life, and the expression on Adam's face when they had first met suddenly made sense. It was the reaction of an Immortal who saw an enemy, and now Gall could see how that might be true. The rage inside him was destructive, and he knew that if he swung the sword there would be no going back. There was something caged in his soul and he didn't want to let it out.

Almost like a sleepwalker he turned to the stage, and slowly walked towards Cressida, never looking at her. He was at war with himself, and he could not meet the horror he knew would be in her eyes. It was easier to look at the harp first, to see it mocking him as it hid secrets of a past that it had seen, but he did not remember. With a slack hand he reached out and touched it, seeking solace in the familiarity, trying to find the courage to face the woman he loved.

The anger just flowed away, as his finger made contact with the instrument, the rage died. It was such a wonderful feeling that Gall gasped in surprise. Whether this was just a mental crutch he needed to regain his composure, or if it actually had some effect on him he couldn't be sure, but suddenly most of the turmoil died. Whatever dark demons of his persona had surfaced fled back from whence they had come, and he looked at Cressida, amazement in his face.

His first rational thought was concern about the young woman, and he moved instantly to help her. She was white as a sheet, and shaking as he cut the bonds and gently removed the gag. As his arms shrouded her protectively she slowly collapsed to her knees, trying to understand what she had seen. The man in the aisle was dead, and Gall had killed him ... Gall had enjoyed it. She could barely comprehend it.

"He's dead," she whispered under her breath, "you killed him."

The bard knew he would lose her if he didn't react quickly.

"No," he said rapidly, "he's not dead Cressie, he'll recover."

She wasn't listening, he could tell, and he couldn't let her just slip away from him in disgust.

"Look at me," he said and pulled her chin up gently. "He can't die like that, neither can I. He's Immortal and so am I."

The disbelief filtered into Cressida's eyes almost immediately, and Gall did the first thing that came to mind. He picked up the sword he had put down to help her and slit the palm of his hand. Even through her shock, Cressie couldn't bare to see him hurt and she reached out and grabbed his limb. She pulled it to her just in time to see the wound close and vanish as if it had never been there. Every muscle froze in shock and she was like a statue, just staring at where the cut should have been.

"I was there when you were born, Cressie," Gall said quietly, "I knew your parents before they were married. I'm never going to grow old, and the only way I can die is if my head leaves my body. That's what he wanted, if he had killed me he would have gained all my power, and that's over two thousand years of life."

"Why didn't you kill him?" the young woman asked as she tried to understand what she was being told.

That was the most difficult question she could have asked and it was hard to answer.

"I don't kill, Cressie," Gall began slowly, "I haven't picked up a sword in my entire recollection, I've never needed to. I don't know why I did this time, it was like being a different person. I think I may have been someone else before I was Gall, I don't remember where I really come from or who I was before I became a bard, I didn't think it was important until now. I will not let it happen again."

He would have gone on but he felt the presence of another Immortal. He looked over to where his adversary lay, but the man was far from recovery, and he realised where the feeling was coming from as Richie ran through the door.

"We have to leave," Gall told Cressie gently, "can you stand?"

She nodded and allowed him to help her to her feet. Richie walked slowly down the aisle, stepping over Poole, and took Methos' sword as the bard offered it to him. The other three Immortals entered behind Richie. No one could explain Gall's behaviour, except possibly the oldest living Immortal, but nobody chose to ask just then.

Scene 3 0

There was drinking, there was heavy drinking, and then there was an Irish celebration. The champagne was flowing more than freely as Joe's friend from the bard's homeland played barmaid for him. Four of the Immortal's in the bar had taken note of the tattoo on her wrist and knew why she was there, Gall had just thought it was nice to see so many people from the Emerald Isle. He'd had a long conversation with her when Joe had introduced them after the Immortals had converged on the bar at the wrong time, but he gave no indication of recognising her from home.

The reason the alcohol was flowing was because Cressida and Gall had just announced their engagement, much to everybody's surprise. The couple had spent the few days since the Poole incident talking things over, and getting used to their new relationship. When they had announced they were going to get married the reactions had ranged from cheerful congratulations to catatonic shock. If anything was more out of character than Gall picking up a sword it was him settling down, and Joe didn't take surprises as well as he used to.

"Now that is happiness," Richie said with a warm smile as he and Methos leaned on the bar watching the others raise a toast.

Amanda and Duncan, and Gall and Cressie were giggling together as if they'd known each other for years. From the looks of things the female Immortal was giving her advice on matters of the bedroom, and her young companion was enjoying every minute of it. The two bachelor Immortals stood back from it slightly, enjoying the show, but not taking an active role. Joe for his part was searching in the back room for what he termed `the good stuff'.

"Young, and, not so young, love," Methos said with an enigmatic smile.

He paused and an amused look crossed his face.

"Sickening isn't it," he commented with a grin.

"But a great excuse for a party," the younger man shot back.

When Joe wandered up behind them, and the older Immortal smiled knowingly at the barman, Richie began to think something bad was about to happen.

"So killed any mortals lately?" Methos asked casually.

"What?" was the instant response.

"Mortals," the five thousand year old man repeated. "Y'know, they tend to die when you shoot them ..."

"Or throw them under a train," Joe finished off.

The whole telephone conversation Richie had had from the bar, with Angie during the whole kidnapping fiasco, came flooding back. It was only then that exactly what he had been saying and how it could have been misinterpreted, impinged on his brain.

"You were listening," he accused, trying to divert the attention from himself, "eavesdropping is a nasty habit!"

"Yeah well we were all worried about you," the Watcher shot back, "you did start producing money from nowhere. When you started talking about bank robbery and murder on the phone, what was I supposed to think?"

"You weren't supposed to hear let alone think," Richie shot back, desperately looking for a way of getting away before the expression on Methos' face became a totally smug grin.

"Well if Corinth hadn't chosen to run off with little Mary I would have asked you up front there and then," Joe told him.

"Writing, interesting occupation," it was too late, Methos had decided to enter the conversation, Richie knew he was doomed. "I've done quite a lot of it in my time, but I have to say I've never written--I do believe the current term is a bodice ripper."

To top it all off he produced a copy of "A Hero in Waiting" with its unsubtley illustrated cover, and put it on the bar.

"Amanda lent me her copy after Joe borrowed it," the ancient Immortal elaborated.

The two men were definitely enjoying this way too much. It made him money, he was quite good at it, he enjoyed it, but Richie wasn't sure he could put up with the flack associated with Methos knowing that he was an author. He dreaded the thought of receiving a written critique of every book he ever published.

"I must say that I've been underestimating your creativity," the ancient Immortal really knew how to turn the knife in the wound, "particularly those intimate scenes between Charles and Claire."

"I can't take this," Richie moaned and banged his head against the bar.

"Don't worry, kid," Methos told him jovially, "I'll only tease you about this for the next century or so."

It was a laugh or cry situation and as the group broke down into fits that Gall looked up and dragged himself away from his party. He was looking at Methos in a way Richie and Joe decided meant it was better that they vacate the area. The bard walked up to the other ancient man and sat down on a bar stool. Patty set about cleaning a particularly dirty spot on the bar and tried not to look as if she was listening.

"I really am sorry about the other day," the Irishman chose an easy topic of conversation to start with, "I can't believe I hit you so hard."

"Forget about it," Methos said and was pleasantly surprised to find he meant it. "We all do strange things if our loved ones are threatened."

A short silence fell as the bard considered his next words.

"You know more about me than I do myself, don't you," he said finally and looked into the face of the other Immortal.

The older man did not deny anything, but he did not reply either.

"Who are you," Gall asked slowly, "and what do you know about me?"

Scene 3 1

The world was filled with a comforting haze, he didn't want to remember, he just wanted to drink his way into oblivion and forget all about his dead wife. She had been so young, only twenty five, but that hadn't stopped death from taking her when the fever hit the village. Most of them were dead, and those that weren't had fled to other settlements. Not even the shaman could save their people with their mystic healing, and Methos didn't want to see it. He was so far gone that the sense of another Immortal never even raised a momentary alarm. Whatever hit him did so before he even noticed that anything was happening.

There was a sudden shock of cold, as icy water washed away the warm blanket of unconsciousness. Now that Methos' senses were functioning again, he knew he was in trouble. By the time he opened his eyes he knew he was tied to a tree, and his wrists complained where they were fastened above his head. What was even more worrying, however, was that someone had seen fit to remove his shirt.

"Welcome back to the world, stranger," a cold, malicious voice said slowly.

Methos' eyes snapped to the sound instantly, and he did not like what he saw. The face was a handsome face with sculptured features and bright blue eyes, but it was not a friendly visage. The windows to the soul were shut and barred, and he'd seen the look of sadistic pleasure many times before. It was the same expression that Caspian had always worn when they had captives at their mercy, and the same one Kronos sported when he watched people die.

"Who are you?" it was the only sensible question Methos could think of to ask.

"The people call me Raven," his captor said calmly. "I take what I want and then I fly away leaving carnage in my wake."

He seemed amused at the image he wove, and as his prisoner watched he twisted a dagger in his fingers.

"I'm quite renown for my style in killing," the youthful looking man continued, "and I've set my sites on these valleys now. You're quite a find I must admit. I didn't expect to find another of our kind in this area."

"The gods favour me with these meetings," Methos spat back sarcastically.

"We're all alone here. I could have killed you on the road," Raven advised the helpless individual evenly, "but I think we can have a little more fun than that. I wonder how much an Immortal can really take before they go completely insane."

Over three days, Raven set about trying to find out, but he underestimated the will of a man with two and a half thousand years under his belt. What the murderer never noticed was that each time Methos revived he worked on his bonds for as long as was possible. The ancient man did not lie back and just wait to die. In fact he was angry and getting angrier by the second, and his fury fuelled his wont to escape. Finally on the fourth morning as Raven wandered off to relieve himself Methos pulled one arm free. After that there was no stopping him, and by the time his captor walked back into camp there was a half crazed, but very ready swordsman waiting for him.

They fought for a long time, Methos' weakness after days of captivity, making up for the fact that Raven was not quite his match. Immortal battled Immortal over rocks and slowly they edged up the hill. With each second the older man was getting stronger and he could see defeat lurking in his opponent's face. Soon this would be over and a scrap of dung would be removed from the earth forever. It was as they crested the rocky hillside that a shout from a solitary shepherd rang across the green valley. The sound startled Methos and his head turned for just a second. It was the only chance his opponent was going to get, and the twisted man knew it. With little or no hesitation the blonde individual ran for the precipice only a few feet away. The last the other Immortal saw of him was the light reflect of a linen shirt as the man fell into the darkness of the entrance to an underground cave.

Scene 3 2

"Some things are best left unsaid," Methos said slowly. "Go home and forget you ever met me, Gall. Be who you are now, and ignore the past."

Then he walked away, and joined with Amanda's riotous advice session. Gall was left with questions, but the expression the other Immortal had worn as he spoke his last words hung in the bard's memory. As Cressie turned to him and held out her hand, he put his thoughts aside and went to her with a smile.

The End

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