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

 

 
 

Where the Waters Meet There Find Magic

Part 2


Scene 1 0

"Richard."

"Uhhh--" he tried to speak and found his mouth full of water. He gagged and desperately tried to breath. A pressure in the middle of his back bore down on his spine and liquid gushed from nose and mouth, burning out of him. Joining with tears of pain as the weight pressed again, and again. Finally it lifted and he drew a hoarse breath. He coughed, spitting the water out, getting rid of the stuff in his mouth - plant matter, sand and mud.

"Richard." The voice buzzed through his head the way bees did through those of cartoon characters , whining and sawing through any ability to think or hear. Almost like the way an Immortal's presence buzzed... With that thought he snapped his eyes open, feeling for his sword. No sword. And he wasn't wearing the clothes he should have been. Some kind of tunic, and he was cold, and wet. He scrambled to his feet, stubbing his toes in the pitch darkness.

"Calm down."

Richie backed away form the sound. "Who are you. Give me my sword back. Why can't I see?"

"Because there's no light - I have enough difficulties without suffocating myself as well. As for who I am, my name is Myrddin."

"Mervin?"

"No. Myrddin." The voice sounded expectant, as if the name should mean something. Richie shrugged, although somewhere at the back of his mind a bell was not so much ringing as clanging furiously.

"Okay Merthin, where's my sword, where am I and how do I get out of here?" he said instead, wrapping his arms around himself, and trying to stop his teeth chattering.

"You know, it's more than 200 years since this place was warm. You'd probably feel a lot better if you came over here."

{It was almost as if the man can see me,) Richie thought, irritated. "Thanks, but no thanks. I like to be able to see who I'm cosying up with. If you let me have my sword--" he fingered the thin cloth wrapped around him, "and my clothes, I'll be right out of here."

"After I went to all that trouble getting you here?" the man sounded positively indignant. "Have you any idea how difficult it was to get this set up right?"

"Oh, so you bust the engine for me did you. How'd ya do it? A bit of sabotage? Paid the guy and got him to give us a lemon?"

"Be reasonable Richie. That wouldn't guarantee you'd take the wrong route. No, it was much simpler, and more direct." The voice had a smile in it. "But I seem to remember you not liking all this 'weird mumbo jumbo stuff' so I won't bore you with the details."

"You're not going to get me that way. You're just trying to wind me up. There's no such thing as magic."

"Oh. Well then, I expect you don't think there's such a thing as demons either." There was a pregnant pause.

"What do you want?" Richie said aggressively, changing the subject.

"For a start, I'd be grateful if you'd come over here where it's warm, and stop that ridiculous noise."

Richie clenched his jaw, trying to stop his teeth rattling. "Tell me why I'm here," he asked more calmly once he'd gotten it under control. The moment he relaxed control to speak they started up again.

"You may survive this week, but will you survive me taking your head to stop that blasted racket. Come here and Sit Down."

Richie found himself obeying willy nilly, walking through the dark to the source of the voice, his knees giving way without his volition. The voice seemed to tap into some part of his brain that bypassed all his own will, and took away his ability to choose his own movements.

"That's better." The voice eased back into more human tones. "Sorry to do that," it didn't sound very apologetic, Richie thought aggrievedly, but bit his lip.


Scene 1 1

It was dark. When she lifted her head it hit sharply against something that knocked hollowly only inches above. The second thing she was aware of was that her wrists were bound tightly behind her - underneath her. She was on her back with her arms pinned awkwardly in the small of her back. She wriggled, trying to pull them down and around her to bring them in front of her, but there wasn't enough room. As her knees bent they hit something too. Tensing her stomach muscles she raised her upper body and hit her forehead on the obstruction above her. Cold, and oddly slippery, almost like graphite, or lead.... She tried rolling from side to side, to determine the width of the thing, but she was only confirming what she had already guessed. She was closed in tightly on all four sides. She let her head drop back, and swore blackly when it hit hard.

{A coffin. Great.} She tilted herself slightly, and breathed carefully, keeping the panic down. Her hands burst into agony as her weight came off of them. "I can wait this out," she told herself. Once feeling was restored she cautiously felt under her. Metal. Definitely metal. She dug a nail at it, ran a finger over the place. She easily found the neat crescent indentation.

"Lead. Christ, I'm sealed in this," she spoke out loud, suddenly aware of her breathing becoming shallower. And shallower. {Almost out of air... Suffocated. Again. How many times does that make it?} she wondered.

{It could be worse. Drowning. I hate drowning. Or being shot. Though I've done that already this week. Stabbing. Been there, done that, replaced the t-shirt. Electrocuted - I never managed the chair, did I. Still time... hanged a couple of times. I wonder when someone...}

....gasp... will dig me...

....gasp....up this time. Mac where...

....gasp....are y' when a girl....

....gasp....needs....


Scene 1 2

Myrddin smiled at his unwilling guest. Richie couldn't see it, but he seemed to relax slightly. He wrapped a blanket around the boy's shoulders, and waited.

"You didn't have to do that voice thing on me," he accused finally.

Myrddin shrugged, then remembered that Richie couldn't see him. "Sorry." He sat next to him. The boy froze, then slowly relaxed into the warmth of the body beside him.

"So," Richie tried to sound merely conversational. "you know Cassandra?"

"Mmm. I saw she finally caught up with MacLeod the younger."

"You saw? I thought you said you were trapped here?"

"No, I said it was 200 years since it felt warm in here. I've been in here, oh around fifteen hundred years. Give or take. The timekeeping wasn't very reliable back then, and I lost count a long time ago."

Richie considered that, thought about his possible responses, ranging from 'you're off your rocker' to 'don't you think you might be exaggerating a little', and opted for something a little more innocuous. "So, if you can't get out, how did I get in?"

"Doesn't work like that. First it took several specific circumstances to organise it, second the entrapment is just tuned to me, and third I don't want to get out. Not yet."

"Nothing personal," Richie shifted a little away from the other man. "But could we skip the riddles and the mystical crap? Please?"

Myrddin sighed. {The age of 'enlightenment' has a lot to answer for.}

"Are you Immortal?" Richie asked abruptly.

"Of course," Myrddin replied quickly.

"Oh. Just, I never felt that buzzy thing. I thought I did, but it was just when I woke up."

"You did feel it," Myrddin assured him. "You must have done. How else could I have lived in here for so long?"

"It could just be some kind of trick." Richie said darkly.

"You must have missed it as you came around," Myrddin repeated firmly, an echo-y ring to his voice.

"I must have missed it as I came-- no I didn't. And don't do that voice thing on me," Richie snarled, jerking away.

In the dark he didn't see Myrddin's eyebrows lift "Sorry," he said perfunctorily. "Sleep," he added, and was rewarded a moment later by the steadying of the breathing of the younger Immortal. "I just need to talk to you properly boy. Then you can go back and do what I need to have done. If you're lucky, you might even survive it."


Scene 1 3

Duncan sighed with relief. Cedric had finally stopped hovering around him, and he was in a small, spartan guest room. He dug into his hold-all and found some boxers and a t-shirt, the closest he could rustle up to the pyjamas he suspected were de rigeur here. {And you do so like to be correctly dressed for the occasion,} he mocked himself mildly.

He carefully placed the katana along the side of the bed, and lay down, hand loosely over the hilt. {Not that I...} he yawned hugely. {Not that I expect anything to happen. But I don't like it when Richie vanished on me. And I don't like strange Immortals being cryptic at me. I shouldn't have let him persuade me to leave.}

He rolled over uncomfortably, and switched the bed side lamp out. He pulled up the sheet and blankets, and then for good measure, the bedspread too. It was bitterly cold.

He closed his eyes to sleep and was greeted by the vision of Richie's body, headless once more, floating in the dark waters of the Lakes, as he slept peacefully, maybe even in the house of his killers. "Don't be ridiculous MacLeod. You're a guest under their roof. They'd never do such a thing." He was startled by his own voice echoing in the 3 am darkness.

"He's fine," he said more softly, trying to believe it.

He slept, and saw the severed neck at his feet again and again, trapped into an unending nightmare fading out into red and fear, and then beginning again.

"Mac... " the voice begged him over and over, "You don't understand... You've got to help me!" Unending streets. Labyrinthine buildings, and only the drifting voice, and the disjointed corpse.


Scene 1 4

Cedric was woken by a soft tapping at his door.

"Sir? Sir?" A soft male voice broke into the quiet of his room.

"Come in, Mark." He was half dressed as he spoke, and finished pulling on sweater, socks and shoes as the young mortal entered.

"It's that delivery from France." Cedric looked blank for a moment, then as the boy went on his face cleared with the returning memory. "The one Dominic phoned about?"

"Yes, yes. Good. I'll be right down."

Mark turned to leave but Cedric stopped him. "Our guest - Mr MacLeod. I think he'll want a nice long lie-in in the morning. And a proper breakfast. Let him take his time."

Mark nodded, understanding on his open face. "I'll see he doesn't go anywhere he shouldn't."

Cedric rolled his shoulders wearily, then straightened. {Why me?} he thought briefly, then chided himself. A broken night's sleep was nothing. It was him because he was the only one - the only one, who knew the truth. Besides, one day {Soon} he thought longingly, {Soon, it'll be time, and I'll lose more than a little sleep then.}

He combed his hair into a neat pony tail, and lost himself in the mirror. . .


Scene 1 5

FLASHBACK

It was late in the evening. The battle was long over, but no one seemed to care who had won. The Saxons were driven back for today, but it didn't matter. A pall hung over the field, not the physical one of fire and burnt bones, not yet, that was for tomorrow, but nonetheless tangible. Even the cries of the wounded were muted, or perhaps they just seemed that way when every fraction of his hearing, his sight, his thoughts and prayers were focused on that tent.

The king had been carried from the death plain by Bedfyr. Gently cradled in the man's arms. Cedric had tried to get close, but he had merely been one among many, and Felix had prevented him from pushing his way through.

"It's been so long. Why don't they send word?" He was restitching a leather panel of his armour that had come loose. The wound the blade had made was long gone, along with the red-blond Viking who had caused it.

"They're doing all they can, but Cedric, he's only human. And he's old now."

"He should never have taken the field. Certainly not with that tricksy Bedfyr at his shoulder."

"He's all right."

Cedric shook his head, but let it go. He could see movement on the hilltop. "Oh Jesus preserve us. No."

"Mithras' blood." The standard was being removed, another going up in its stead. The pennon hung limply in the close June evening, the light too bad to make out the markings.

"He's dead. . . " Who said it first? No one knew, the words were there, whispered across the field, till the sound was like the sea. A wail from someone - a man, unable to believe that the leader he would have followed beyond the gates of hell was dead. Not possible, not him, not dead. Why this morning he was asking me about my bad knee, my family, the burnt breakfast. . . He can't be. . .

Cedric stood, suddenly filled with purpose.

"Where are you going?" Felix asked him.

"I have to see the body. Those weren't life threatening wounds. I'm sure of it. He did this. I'll bet that's his banner up there on the king's tent. He's been planning it all along. Wait till the war's over, and kill him, and take the kingdom. Oh, a pretty prize. But he needn't think he's going to get away with it."

"Cedric, when was the last time you saw a mortal survive a blow to the chest? Cedric. . ." Felix called after him, but his friend ignored him.

He couldn't get to the tent. It was guarded. They told him it was following the traditions of three days of respect, and then he would be buried on a great ship.

{Yeah, I'm sure,} he thought scornfully. {I know what they don't want me to see. A slit throat, or maybe the smell of poison.} He wandered further along the plateau of the hilltop, staring tearlessly, angrily out at the land below him. {All for that good for nothing bastard. Well, we'll see. I'm not taken in.}

Suddenly a figure caught his eyes. It looked like Bedfyr, riding away on that showy horse of his. Cedric scrambled down the hill, found a pony wandering loose since his owner died, and vaulted onto its back. He trailed a good way behind the man - mostly because he couldn't catch him. The thoroughbred the traitor rode was far faster than the little mountain pony he had to endure.

Finally the other stopped by the waterside, where he could go no further. Another man was there, and there seemed to be an argument developing. Cedric crept closer and closer - it wasn't for some years that he realised that he should have been sensed by the two Immortals. He'd thought for a moment he had been, when both men glanced around them, but Bedfyr shrugged, even as the second man seemed to stare right into Cedric's eyes. He could hear them.

"How did it happen?" Bedfyr asked angrily. "I thought this was supposed to protect him."

"You were supposed to protect him too, Death, and look what happened."

Cedric nodded to himself, his worst suspicions confirmed. He was so busy congratulating himself on his acumen he missed the next few words, coming in again a moment later.

"Will you give it to me?" Cedric finally recognised the other man - Myrddin, the King's advisor. Feared Myrddin, the man with weird eyes, pale and green, and always far away, then suddenly telling you thoughts you never wanted anyone to know about, seeing into the worst places of a man's soul, and using his own fears against him. Witchcraft, some called it, but the new Christians were an intolerant crew, and most real Britons still respected the older ways, even if they paid lip service to the new. He shivered, and wondered if that was why the other Immortal hadn't noticed him. . .

"Let me understand this correctly. You believe that the game needs to be driven forwards, and this is how you do it?" Bedfyr was almost shouting, sword brandished menacingly in one hand. Cedric squinted harder. Then he got it. Bedfyr was wearing his own sword in his scabbard, bound by black ties until the funeral. The other sword was the King's. Caliburn. The sword given to him, in circumstances which varied according to who told the tale, but were always magical, and connected with the royal kingship. {What the hell is he doing with it?} he thought, enraged.

"It's important. No one will learn, move on without the goad of conflict, pressure to do better, be better than the other tribe. We have to have that, Methos. How else will we reach the future?"

"The way we've managed so far seemed pretty effective," Bedfyr said dryly, "just stacking up the days. I've managed to collect some three thousand years worth of them that way. Come on Myrddin," the word seemed to have a kind of dare laden in it. There was a long pause.

"Oh, very well. Bedfyr."

"Thank you. As I was saying. What are you really playing at?"

"You know I'm not going to tell you."

"Oh no?" Idly Bedfyr began twirling the sword, flipping it from one to the other, the blade glittering with more than just the last of the light. "You know what he asked me to do with this?"

"No?" Myrddin was surprised at the change of topic, and sounded cautious. "I thought you wanted to give it back."

"After a fashion, dear boy." There was a real edge on that, and the sword moved again, all eyes watching it.

"You wouldn't dare!" Myrddin's voice held horror. "It'll all fall apart!"

"Maybe that's the idea? He was tired of it, Fyanon. You'd driven him, and his father, and his grandfather, and who knows how many others, until they lost everything. Both his sons, his wife, most his friends. . . you wouldn't know how that feels, would you?" The ancient immortal's voice was gentle, pitched so low that Cedric had to strain to hear it. "You never tried to involve yourself, did you. He's called a halt to it. There will be no more war. Not here."

"You don't understand, the chaos must be faced, driven back, not ignored."

"No. It stops here. I'm tired, and so is the land. You haven't seen it, have you? The only well fed things in this island are the carrion eaters. And I include the warlords and the aristocrats in that, with the rats and crows and wolves."

"If I told you what you want to know? Then would you give it to me?"

Bedfyr seemed to consider this. "Probably. But I still wouldn't let it go on."

There was a long silence. "Very well then. I give you some of it, and you give me the sword."

"Give me the information first, and we'll see if it's worth the price."

"I thought this was what you wanted all along."

Bedfyr looked at him seriously. "There are more important things. They don't live long enough that we should take what they do have away from them."

"You surprise me, such words, from Death himself." He clutched dramatically at his chest, Bedfyr just stood there, watching him. "Oh, very well."

They abruptly changed languages. Cedric knew enough Greek to buy himself a drink, and to know the occasional word, but this was a strange form. The kind he thought the grammaticus taught the Praetor's sons in school.

"Xenoi" he knew that, foreigner. And there was something about beginning or start - something like that. "Thanatos." That was easy. Bedfyr's head was shaking slowly, and he said something short and contemptuous sounding. Myrddin's hand snatched at his wrist, and suddenly the sword was in the way. Myrddin flinched back violently, more so than the move had warranted - it had been a threat only.

"Interesting." Cedric's ears pricked up. They'd finally reverted to a language he knew. Bedfyr went on, "You fear the sword. I wonder why."

"Of course I don't."

"I think you do. You know, I don't think that was enough."

"I told what I could!"

"Yes, but really, it wasn't much more than a conflation of creation myths. I'd figured most of it out already. And I have no guarantee that your information is any more reliable than anyone else's." he hefted the sword thoughtfully.

"No. You promised!"

"Oh, no," came the soft reply. "I was very careful not to promise. You don't like this lake do you?" He didn't wait for a reply. "Good." He swung the sword back, and for a moment Cedric thought that he was going to take the magician's head, but instead he flipped his arm forward, with startling power the sword flew from his hand and spun out over the water. Improbably far out it sank, tracelessly, accompanied by the howl of anguish from Myrddin.

"No! NO! Do you know what you've done?"

"Yes."

"Then we are opposite sides. And you are walking into darkness."

"Am I? Or are you so blinded by your desire for knowledge and control that you cannot bear anyone to walk a different path, cannot see that your own is less than pure?"

PRESENT

Cedric shook himself back to the present. Time enough for that later. He sighed. Even though he'd done what he could {Prevented that traitor from getting the land,} he thought with satisfaction, {And got the sword back. Desecration, to treat a weapon like that.} he'd never managed to get things back to the way they were. In the end, after he'd joined forces with Vivian, they'd retreated to Thirlmere, and waited for the future to happen.

He smiled and wandered downstairs.


Scene 1 6

Duncan was woken by the sound of a door slamming. He sat up, holding his head for a moment. He turned his wrist towards the thin strip of light from under the bedroom door and groaned. Just two hours of sleep, and it felt more like a century spent on rocks. There was a murmur of voices just below his window, and the sound of an engine being turned over. For a moment he thought he felt the brush of an Immortal and came fully awake before he reminded himself of where he was. Quietly he slid out of bed and parted the curtains to look down. Cedric was out there, yawning occasionally as he spoke to three others. Then he spotted the dark shapes on the ground, distinctive and terrible. A pair of coffins. He gently pushed at the catch and lifted the sash.

"...the barn, I suppose. I can't have people walking in to find them before breakfast."

"Especially the children," a dark headed man pointed out. The rest nodded, almost visibly shivering.

"I realise this is awkward, but can I ask you to get them into the lean to? I'm sure they won't mind any disrespect," he gestured to the coffins with a wan smile. He received a couple of greenish smiles in return.

Footsteps crunched on the gravel and the burdens were carefully shouldered between half a dozen men, who walked slowly around the corner out of sight with the first coffin. Duncan pulled back a little as Cedric's head turned upwards to his window.

(Something really isn't right here,) he thought, as the men returned and took the second coffin somewhere, not inside the house as he had expected. {What are they hiding?}


Scene 1 7

He pushed at the half hidden door at the back of the barn, and walked into the other half. The side lean- to would hold the invaders, it was designed for recalcitrant guests, and while it had had no occupants in over forty years, he was confident it was still secure. Lost in his thoughts he almost forgot, but his feet remembered for him, and carried him forward on automatic to the very edge of the table.

He crossed himself, feeling lighter and safer, even without opening the case. He always felt better when he came in here. it reminded him of all he had achieved, despite everything. No matter who interfered, no matter what happened in the rest of the world to damage his design - Pen Dragon's design really, he thought fondly, it all went on, making a shape for itself in the world.

He casually stroked a hand over the gleaming metal, polished by the touch of his hand over centuries, then lifted the lid, letting his eyes close until he could see it all at once, childlike. He opened them again and looked. He drew a deep, calming breath, not even aware of the unexpected event of the last ten hours. All was well. It was still there, where he had laid it, found at such cost. He remembered the number of times he had drowned, the sacrifices to the gods he had had to make, the price Vivian and the waters had demanded for retrieving it. All worth while.

Beautiful.

He ran his hand down the glass that sealed it away from the corrosive air, fingers slipping into the worn track they had worn in the thick glass. He frowned at that same glass for a moment. It too was old, almost as old as the casing, and distorted the true shape of the sword inside.

Unexpectedly, but carrying the moment with him, he touched his finger tips to the barely visible dips in the metalwork. He didn't do this often, but it was needed, tonight, for some reason that he had no understanding of. There was a barely audible click, sensed more than heard, the glass tilted.

Another moment to collect himself. {Calm, calm...} he told himself. {I know I'm not the true king, but I wish I could...} His hand reached out of his own accord, reaching to the sword resting on soft oil- soaked lambswool.

Maybe it was guilt, imagination. But Cedric's eyes seemed to see blue sparks edging off the blade. Spitting fire at its thief. {No, no, I was meant to do this. It is all meant.} he reminded himself firmly, and sighed happily. {It's right that I not touch it,} he thought determinedly. He even believed it.

Briskly he lowered the glass, dropped the lid and walked away.

Outside again, he called the men over. "Yes, here, that's right." He smiled benignly at Martin, Jason and Rob as they dragged the first coffin into the lean-to attached to the barn, then headed back to move the second. The smile widened as they passed him, staggering under the weight, and he felt the hum of an awakening Immortal from it. There were a couple of moments quiet, then a feeble thumping that quickly petered out, barely even audible over the crunch of boots on gravel.

No one paid any attention. The two boxes were leaned against a wall, one in front of the other, and the door chained shut. Cedric walked away, thinking of his bed, and gave an admiring thought to the craftsmanship that built an utterly airtight mobile tomb, as the faint feel of a live Immortal faded and vanished with more than distance.


Scene 1 8

Cold. It was so cold. He huddled smaller into himself, crouched beside the low wall, wrapped his arms tightly about his knees, moaning softly.

Gradually it grew lighter. Long slow tremors of cold ran through him. Dew settled on his already wet clothing, and thawed through the thin layer of ice. A watery sun crept above the hills, bringing an ice blue sky with it. The lake, long and dark, rippled gently, wavelets driven before the steady breeze. Once, a wave splashed particularly loudly, perhaps a fish had jumped, and he cried out in fear, wide terrified eyes lifting to stare at the water.

There was nothing there. His eyes dropped again, ashamed. As they fell they saw the sword. His sword?

He reached for it, then paused, hand hovering over the hilt warily. Maybe it wasn't his. Seemingly of its own will his hand folded around the hilt, and lifted the sword easily. He could feel frozen muscles stretch and pull across back and shoulders. It settles into his grip, the hilt almost warm in his clasp.

Carefully he stretched out his legs, feeling the muscles spasm and cramp. For a moment he pulls them back up to his chest as the wind cuts through his wet shirt, the warmth that had been trapped between his chest and his thighs instantly gone. Painfully he leaned forward and rubbed at his leg. It took a moment to realise that some of the pain was being caused by something in his hand. Slowly he lifted the offending limb and stared at it. There was a chain wound around it, and dangling from it some kind of charm. He brought it closer, peering through the grey dawn light to try to make out the details. Some sort of lizard? He shrugged and clumsily untangled it from his wrist and hands and slipped it into a pocket.


Scene 1 9

"Richie?" Duncan relaxed slightly, feeling the sense of an Immortal nearby. {He must be near... Unless it's not him.} He stifled the thought and tried again. "RICH-IE!"

He stood in the middle of the road and waited for the shout to stop echoing off the valley walls.

"Why doesn't he answer?" he muttered irritably to himself.

"Maybe he can't." Cedric suggested helpfully.

Duncan frowned, visibly dismissed the thought and drew breath to shout again. {Surely he'd reply if he could?} He paused, and stared thoughtfully at the water just the other side of the low wall. "Maybe he fell in. He might be unconscious."

"This time of year, it's probably hypothermia." Cedric nodded.

Duncan nodded, and vaulted the wall to begin scanning the side of the lake. He was brought up short as he turned, seeing the huddled form of his former student jammed as close as possible against the wall. In a moment he was crouched by Richie.

"Rich?" he took hold of a shoulder and shook it gently. There was a faint movement, but he didn't uncurl. The shivers he could feel under his hand running through the icy body were visible. "Rich, it's me, it's Mac. What happened?"

Richie's eyes opened and looked unrecognisingly at MacLeod, at his out-stretched hand, and flinched away, closer into the jagged edges of the stone wall.

Duncan glanced up over the wall to Cedric. "Can I have the blanket, thanks? And stay back. I'm not sure how he'll react to a stranger." {Especially when he seems to be terrified of me,} he added mentally, waiting patiently.

Wordlessly Cedric stepped back to the car and fished out the warm woollen blanket. He handed it over and retreated again, a frown across his face, his lips thinning as he looked out at the lake. {I was afraid of this. We've been so careful, for so long, but Vivian was right. She always is.}

"Hey, Rich, you look cold. Here." Slowly, carefully, Duncan eased his friend away from the wall, wrapping the blanket around him.

"Mac?" Richie's voice was thick and hoarse.

"Come on, tough guy. Up you come." He pulled Richie to his feet and bundled him over the wall unceremoniously, catching him and letting his regain his balance as he threatened to stumble and fall.

Richie looked at the hand on his arm, and said softly, "Gonna find death."

"Say again?" Duncan glanced sharply at him, he'd not thought that Immortals could be delirious, but..."it's been a long night, hasn't it?" he said gently, and hopped over the wall to join him.

"Death. He's going to come. He said so. Mustn't listen... you mustn't... more trouble..." his voice tailed off into a yawn. "Tired."

"I know. Come on and we'll get you warm and fed. You'll feel better then."

"My sword," he said sharply. "Give it to me."

"Sure, just let us get you--"

"Now!" He straightened away from MacLeod and turned icy blue eyes on him. "Give it me!" he demanded, hand held out imperiously.

"Rich, I don't know where," Mac began palliatively.

"It's where I was waiting. Get it."

Duncan looked quizzically at his erstwhile student, but Richie was barely keeping his feet, and certainly wasn't up to an argument. He went back and quickly found the sword.

"Give it here." Richie took it and scrutinised it minutely, turning it carefully. He half smiled at it, apparently pleased with what he saw.

"Get in the car," Duncan ordered firmly. Richie looked at him and smiled faintly.

"Sure." He lowered the sword and walked towards the car, then stopped. Duncan rolled his eyes, thinking {What now?}

"He's a friend, he helped me find you." he told Richie who was staring warily at the other man. Richie thought for a moment, and smiled sweetly at both men. "That would explain it," he remarked apropos of nothing, and almost fell into the car, asleep before he hit the seat.


Scene 2 0

Duncan hovered by the doorway, trying not to be in the way, and not succeeding terribly well. Immortal or not, Richie wasn't waking up. It had been some five hours since they'd brought him back, and after all the bustle of finding the kid clothes and hot water bottles it seemed rather anti climactic to just stand and watch while he slept.

"Mr MacLeod?" Vivian was behind him, waiting in the doorway. He moved out of the way hastily, and she shook her head, "No, I didn't need to come in, I just wanted to see how your young friend was."

They both glanced over at the reddy curls that were the only thing visible above the heaped up blankets. Duncan shrugged. "Asleep." He said laconically.

Vivian frowned faintly, and despite her earlier remark, moved further into the room. "It's probably hypothermia." She sounded doubtful, and Duncan looked sharply at her, wondering what she meant. He was in time to catch the glimmer of wary malice on her face that vanished into a doubtful frown again.

"His core temperature should rise to normal in a couple of hours," the highlander remarked neutrally.

She took another couple of steps towards the bed, almost as if she couldn't stop herself. Then she paused and turned for a moment.

"If you want a hot drink, or some lunch, I think Sarah's got something on the table downstairs."

"I don't want to leave--" he demurred, and she smiled abruptly at him, her face transforming in a moment from a too narrow patchwork of bones and eyes to something very like beauty. The eyes stayed distant though, and Duncan wondered how safe she was to leave with another, currently helpless, Immortal.

As if reading his thoughts she said dryly, "We are on holy ground still..." and Duncan found himself blushing, patches of red staining his cheeks, and he smiled, trying to recover, slipping back into his brogue.

"Nah, I dinnae mean tha'. I'll just be going downstairs then - would you like anything?" he added politely, and headed for the door when she shook her head.

Once his footsteps had reached the ground floor, echoing on the flagstones of the hallway, Vivian closed the door and drew the curtains.

"Richard?" she said, sitting on the bed, "Richard. Wake. Up." Her voice resounded in the room, but not enough, there was no double sound that commanded obedience. Richie did not move. She turned down the covers till his face was exposed, and watched for a moment, as he mumbled and tugged at the clothes.

"Richard?" she tried again, more quietly. Still no response. "Richard, hear my voice," she said softly. "It's very important you answer me, it's all right," she soothed, "You don't have to wake up. In fact, you need to sleep deep, dream, Richard. What happened? Did you fall in?"

Richie turned and curled away from her insistent voice. "Richie? Richie, it's for your own good. I have to know, did you fall in the water? Come on, you can tell me, I just want to know."

There was no answer, which, she feared, was an answer in itself. If he had stayed out of the water he would have said so. That he made no reply made it more likely that he had fallen in.

"Richie. Can you hear me?" There was a slight nod of the head, and her heart sank. {Damn. I'm going to have to get him off the estate and deal with him.} she thought irritably, seeing her house of cards teetering perilously. {All because of a pair of Immortals who can't read a map. How did this happen? I had it all organised,} she glared at the comatose Immortal.

"Richie? Can you tell me what you saw when you fell in the lake?" Silence. "Did you see anyone? Answer me damn you!" her last words were more hissed than spoken, and for the first time Richie stirred. Bright blue eyes opened a slit, and met her own.

"Hello Nimue," he said in mild tones, and closed them again.

She froze, and would have done something rash, except she could hear footsteps nearing the door, she just had time to wrench the curtains open again, and was standing by the window, apparently staring out at the farmyard when Duncan elbowed the door open and carried a tray in.

"Any sign of life?" he asked casually.

Vivian shivered visibly, and said, "No," as if dragging her mind back from a long way off, shook her head in a negative, and turned back to the window. Duncan watched the thin back, mostly hidden by the long waves of red hair, and his lips thinned. For the umpteenth time he thought to himself that something definitely wasn't right. He put the tray down by the bed, and smiled as Richie rolled over towards the smell of the food.

"Sure fire way to wake the kid," he remarked. Vivian's head snapped around, Duncan didn't catch it though, nor did he initially spot the sardonic glance Richie's now open eyes directed at her.

"Hey, Mac," he croaked, and Duncan looked up from clearing a space for himself to eat and smiled at his erstwhile student.

"Hey Rich," he said back. "Y'okay?"

"Cold."

Duncan nodded. "You'll warn up. So, kid, what happened to you?" he began to split the contents of his plate onto a second one that he had brought up, just in case. Thus he missed Richie's second, quick glance at Vivian. She merely raised her eyebrows, as if to say, 'Get out of that one.'

Richie took in a deep breath, and grinned at the room at large. "That stuff smells good. Could we wait till I've eaten?"

"You mean you're actually considering not talking with your mouth full?" Duncan said with mock incredulity.

Richie scowled, "Very funny Mac. Here, give me some of that." he grabbed a plate and started in on the food with his fingers until Mac pointedly handed him a fork. Richie grinned at his mentor, but obligingly switched.

"I was um, trying to fix the thing, I'm starting to think we were sabotaged or something, dammed if I can find a thing wrong with it. I dunno. Anyway, I, um," he glanced at Vivian warily. He was quite sure he didn't want to tell her everything, something in the back of his head was screaming, danger, and these days he really paid attention to that kind of instinct. Richie hastily edited the version he had planned to tell, and looked up at Duncan over a forkful of sausage.

"I got bored waiting and hopped over the wall to have a closer look at the lake." He shrugged, a self- deprecating look on his face. "I guess I hopped a little too far, didn't see where I was going, and fell in. Once I got myself out again, I think I passed out from the cold."

"You probably died from the cold," Duncan told him sternly.

Richie shrugged again, and took another bite of the food on his plate. He'd emptied it in minutes and was now staring wistfully at the remainder of the bacon, eggs and sausages on Duncan's plate. The Highlander laughed helplessly, and swapped plate.

"Thanks," and Richie finished off Duncan's lunch. It was another two hours before he felt warm enough to try getting out of bed, and Vivian, to his intense irritation, never left once. When Duncan took the plates down, he rather sharply suggested she could find better things to do with her time, and she smiled coldly back.

"No doubt I could, Richard. But I would so much rather not let you interfere with what I have arranged."

Richie let his lashes fall over his eyes. "And why would that be?"

The smile never wavered, and she said coolly, "You know why. I've broken every window you ever tried for this, and I'm not skipping this one. Your young friend doesn't need to know a thing, and once you're all off my land, then you'll have to start all over again, won't you." Her voice sounded satisfied, and Richie tilted his head, curious.

"This time's different, Nimue. This one's different. And his friend, MacLeod, has lots of threads bringing him here. You don't run everything, believe me."

"I can try," she said viciously. They both jumped as MacLeod returned.

Richie yawned ostentatiously, and slid back down under the covers. "Don't let me keep you people," he said tiredly. "I'm going to take another nap."

"Yes, you'll need to keep your strength up," Vivian agreed solicitously. Duncan threw her another sharp glance, but saw only sincere concern.

He nodded, and said, "I'll go down, and see if I can't fix the car." Richie frowned at him, apparently in annoyance and Duncan paused for a moment, wondering what Richie wanted. They both caught Vivian's eyes on them, with an almost predatory look in them, and Richie ostentatiously shut his eyes. {I'll have to tell Mac the rest later,} he thought hazily, and realised with some surprise that he truly did want to go back to sleep.

Duncan watched for a couple of minutes as Richie's breathing evened out into the slow pattern of the sleeping, and followed Vivian out the room.


Scene 2 1

For a while he pottered around the car, muttering. Finally he stepped back and sighed, shaking his head.

"It's not so much that I can't fix an engine, as I don't know which bit is the engine anymore." He glared at the odd arrangement of leads and pipes. "At least back in the twenties you could strip it down and put it back together again. Here, I can't even find the bloody screws to get started."

A footstep sounded behind him, together with a mild chuckle. "These days they plug it into a computer and let the car tell the mechanics what's gone wrong."

"You're kidding." Duncan half turned to see the man behind him.

"Nope. The newer cars," he gestured to the rental vehicle," have automatic diagnostics set up inside 'em. You take it back to the garage and they'll check it over in half the time. Course, doesn't make the mechanics any happier," he added, peering under the bonnet, hands firmly behind his back. He glanced around to see if the tall guy had taken the bait. He was half smiling.

"Which is because?" Duncan asked obligingly.

"They charge by the hour, see. Half the time for repairs, half the cash..."

Duncan chuckled and nodded. "Doesn't get me any closer to Scotland."

"Is that where you're headed?" Duncan just nodded again.

"Ah well, you see, it's pretty enough up there," his hands twitched and he leaned further into the car, running his fingers over the grimy parts that had defeated Duncan. "I mean, my sister married a highland man," he went on cheerily, "They're still up there, twenty years it is, working some croft, she doing the spinning and weaving and running the craft centre see, and the brother in law is a lawyer down in Dumfries. But I've never really felt like leaving the hills, here's far enough, and I can take a clean run back to the Marches in an hour, maybe two, if the lads in blue don't start making tits of themselves."

Duncan stated the obvious. "Welsh then?"

"Aye, and the hiraeth is terrible somedays, y'know man. But you go where the work is," he gave a long suffering sigh, and caught the look on Duncan's face. He laughed, prodding at a couple of wires. He frowned and pulled at something, and screwed a couple of the pipes that had been wobbling ferociously as he tugged them back down.

"You're a Scot aren't you? The brother-in-law gets the self same look to his face when I start in on the subject. I'll leave you to it then man." He stepped back with a look of satisfaction and absently wiped his hands across the seat of an already grimy boiler suit.

"No, I..."

"Ah, don't feel bad about it. It's not like you're a bloody saes now, is it?" Dumbly Duncan shook his head. "Well, of course you're not. Wouldn't have been fixing this for a saes," he nodded at the car as he turned towards Duncan. "job or no job, I've got standards you know."

"It's fixed?"

"Should be, should be. Don't be surprised if it doesn't work. New fangled cars, all this computerised stuff. Turn her over, we'll see."

Duncan patted his pockets, then realised he'd left the house without the keys. He said as much.

"Dim prob man. Give us'n a yell later, and we'll see what she does." He slammed the bonnet back down. "Your friend's got a nice touch himself." He jerked his head towards the car. "Nearly had it. Still, being by the lake, I guess he distracted the boy," he rambled.

"He?"

"Don't mind me." He caught himself hastily. "Monoglot Welsh I was, right till they put the village under the water, not a word of the English till I got to secondary school. Get twisted on the words even now, I do." He backed away, still talking but moving rapidly till it was quite clear he considered the conversation over.

Duncan frowned. What with Cedric, and Vivian and now this man - he realised he'd not even gotten his name - all going on about something in the lake, he was starting to wonder if it was just him or all of them that were seriously off kilter. He glanced at the car. {Might as well test it, see if Taffy fixed it up for us.}

He stepped inside and was about to head up the stairs to grab his coat when he heard his name.

"MacLeod! What are we going to ..." the voice dropped enough that it was muffled by the distance. He hesitated for a moment, then crept quietly up to the half open door. It wasn't really in his nature to eavesdrop, but this was too interesting to pass up.

"...anything at all!" Vivian's voice was quiet, but no less urgent for all that.

There was a muffled chuckle, that stopped abruptly. "I'm so glad you find this funny, Simon," she grated. "Do you know why you were the second man to join our group? Because the first one in your position was taken by that bastard in the water, and nearly killed us all. It took us a century, more, to regroup, to retrain our mortals... I'm not having that again." There was a short silence.

Cedric's voice, more conciliatory than Simon or Vivian started. "Please, Simon, Vivian. This is not helping. We've got to think this through."

"Oh come on!" Duncan could almost see the roll of disbelieving eyes as Simon stared at the other two Immortals. "More of your dumb prophecies, Viv? More sword worship, Ceddie? Man, I don't know where you dug him up from, but he's got a one man religion going on here, Viv, and you're encouraging him. Okay, so yeah, I buy into the rest of it, it doesn't seem unreasonable. But magic? Let's get real here."

"You're young, so I'll overlook that." Vivian sounded as if she carried the weight of millennia on her shoulders. Duncan mentally hit himself. Chances were, she did.

"What would you call your Immortality, then?" Cedric's more placatory voice said from a little further away. {Probably by the window.} Duncan surmised.

"Good genes. Luck of the draw. Some kind of freaky mutant stuff. I don't know. But give me a break here. You're talking witches and spells and thousands of years."

"The oldest of our kind is older than the one in the lake."

"You're seriously telling there's an Immortal running round more than four thousand years old? Why? If I was him, I'd've taken over the world with the Egyptians, or Alexander or someone, and be living the high life."

There was a pause, and Duncan could imagine the looks being exchanged, it was probably very similar to his own. {I mean, aside from the morality of it, he seems to think it's all a game.}

"It's not a game, Simon." Duncan was startled to hear Vivian echo his thoughts a second later. "What we do here is important. If we don't stand against the Immortals that want that very thing, then what are we? We live on Holy Ground, it protects us, yes, but there are other reasons. It's not just Immortals that can be dangerous. Mortals need guidance, care, we have to protect them from the consequences of apathy."

"Yeah, yeah, I heard it before, for evil to triumph, it only needs that the good do nothing. I know. hell, I'm here aren't I? Sure, bad stuff happens. I'll even grant you guys were right about all that stuff back at the turn of the century..."

"Not even a hundred years, and they've come so far..." Vivian's voice had the sound of a proud parent almost, and Duncan frowned, confused.

"It's what I always said. Conflict brings out the best in them. Eventually, only the best will survive, and then we can allow them to understand the reality of their world. How it forms and is formed by ours." Cedric said seriously.

"All right already. I'm with the programme here, remember? So, what are we going to do next?"

There was another pause.

"MacLeod is on the side of angels." Cedric said. There was another pause.

"You mean like, bring him in?"

"With all the will in the world, Simon," Vivian responded with sweet venom, "You aren't the warrior he is."

"So I'm out?"

"No, no, absolutely not."

"Oh, I get it, I leave in a body bag or not at all."

"No!" Cedric sounded honestly shocked. But Duncan was interested to note there was no similar outburst from the woman. This was starting to sound weirder and weirder. Footsteps approached the door, and Duncan hastily pulled himself together and ran swiftly and silently up the stairs back into his room, looking for his keys as originally planned. He missed the last part of the conversation of the three Immortals...


Scene 2 2

"No!" Cedric stared in honest shock at the youngest of the three of them. "No, I didn't mean that at all. You're our modern man. I can't plan like you and Vivian do. And neither of us can play with those computers the way you do."

"Which is probably as well, imagine the phone bills if all three of us were at it the whole time," Vivian said nastily, sotto voce. Cedric glared at her, and she simply shrugged, and waited till he backed down.

"No, you're the key to the next step."

"Only this time, get it right." Vivian added. "It's no good starting a war that's over in three months. I hate to be dramatic," she paused to let the two men get over their coughing fits and smiled dryly, "But this is Armageddon we're planning. I'd prefer it if the rest of the world actually noticed this time, instead of shrugging it off as a little local difficulty."

"It's not my fault," Simon said defensively. "It just wouldn't gel right. But I know where I went wrong."

"Did you see old Annan coming off the plane with his piece of paper. It brought back such memories..." Vivian smiled blissfully.

"'Peace in our time...'" Simon parodied, and the three of them smirked at each other, disagreements temporarily forgotten.

"Well then, Cedric, you try to recruit MacLeod, watch which version you give him, I gather he's quite the lily white boy. Simon, you get on with whatever you were up to."

"And you?"

"I'll be 'dealing' with our friend and the lake."


Scene 2 3

Methos held his breath. Not that was much oxygen left to actually hold, but it seemed easier to store it than breath it. Stave off dying in this stupid box again and again. He'd managed to wedge his knees up between his thighs and the lid of the box. Gravity was against him, and his back hurt unbelievably, but at least he now had leverage. He could feel the his face flooding with colour, the strain making his veins bulge, his eyes squeeze tight shut in defence from being squeezed out altogether. He spared a thought for the time he'd found out that if you strained hard enough you really could force a man's eyes to pop out. Of course, that was a long time ago. {And I don't wear the cosmetics any more either,} he reminded himself vaguely as he pushed. There was the faintest give, his muscles springing forward with the shock of movement and spasmed into an agonising cramp. Just as he was aware of the last of the oxygen, and the wherewithal to stay alive, vanishing, he saw a glimmer of light penetrate the two day darkness, piercingly bright.

With it came air. Not much. Not enough initially to stop him from passing out, and reawakening, slumped in a twisted tangled at the foot of the coffin, but enough to keep him from dying for the, what, twentieth time? He'd lost count.

He inhaled and let it out again, savouring the freedom to breath once more. Self-indulgence done, he began straining at the lid again. Now that part of it was loosened the rest seemed to come easier. In only a half hour or so he was free, pushing the lid away carefully, holding on to it lest it crash out and alert someone. It was too much to hope to leave without confrontation, but at the very least he could get his sword back first. He lowered the lid back onto the coffin, and leaned against it heavily, pushing the nails back into the heavy wood. {Good enough,} he told himself, and turned to leave. Two things stopped him. The sense of an Immortal nearby - very near, and the sight of his sword - and Amanda's resting against the rough wooden wall of the shack they were being stored in.

"Amanda?" he hissed. There was a faint pounding from behind his coffin, and he leaned around it to take a look. Another was there, leaning against the wall, and presumably holding Ms Darieux. He grinned for a moment, thinking of sweet revenge for all the dumb stunts she had gotten him into. And then he remembered that sooner or later, MacLeod was bound to find out, and regardless of having known Amanda for three hundred years, would take her side and blame him. Or worse, do nothing when Amanda took her revenge...

He walked the first coffin away from the second, leaning it on the opposite wall, and used the tip of Amanda's sword to lever the top off. The pounding stopped for a moment, then redoubled, accompanied by outraged yells that became clearer and clearer as he pulled the nails out.

"Shut up!" he hissed furiously. "It's me, Adam. If you keep yelling like that they'll come running and I won't stop them putting you back in there."

"Adam?" Amanda said softly.

"Yeah. Now give me a couple of minutes and some quiet, and I'll see what I can manage in the way of a rescue."


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