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Shades and Shadows (Part 3)

By Lyria Wollich - 2000

Chapter 3

     "So this is the magnificent Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod." Ahriman's voice taunted Mac from the shadows. "Quite an impressive life I would have to say. Yes, quite impressive. Wars, battle, a sword, the life of a warrior prince. You have the blood of countless thousands on your hands MacLeod. It touches my heart that you have done so much to promote my way of being."
     Duncan felt a gentle touch on his face, a gossamer breeze drift by. "Yes, the champion, the chosen one. I agree. What a better way to rid the world of peace and harmony than to seed the soil with your kind. Immortals. You fight to the death until there is only one. A well chosen path if you ask me. So what then MacLeod? What happens when you or one of your kind achieve this so called "prize"? The warrior spirit has been ingrained in you, taught and well honed. Since your childhood you have known nothing but the comfort of your blade by your side. Will it be that simple to put it away once the "game" is finished. Do you think these mortals will simply stand by and allow you to rule them?"
     Horton appeared in front of him. "Do you? And what do you dream of becoming? A king perhaps, or better yet a God. Yes a God to rule on high, to watch as humanity kills itself slowly…yes…"
     Horton smiled, his eyes twinkling. "You pitiful creatures know nothing of being a God. You wear your immortality like a cloak, watching those you love suffer and die and can do nothing."
     Mac fought down his feelings of rage and anger. He knew there was truth in what was being said. He had seen blood and war and seen countless people die, and for what? - A tract of land, a scrap of food, a feud between kin. He had seen kingdoms rise and fall and still very little had changed. His emotions welled up in him like a volcano, dangerously close to erupting through the calm surface.

     "You're an ungrateful man MacLeod. I gave you back what you wanted, I gave you your precious Tessa and that upstart Ryan. Still you fight on, not satisfied with the gifts I have given you. Isn't that what you wanted MacLeod? A normal life, a family. Tsk, Tsk, I'm hurt." Horton smiled again, moving closer. He leaned over and whispered in Mac's ear. "All you have to do is walk away MacLeod and you can keep them both."
     "Go to hell." Mac spat back at him
     Horton shook his head sadly. "Do you see what I mean?" Moving away again, Horton's cruel ice blue eyes bore in to him. "I think I'll let you think on it a while. Yes, let you live with all your memories." He made an expansive gesture to the maze around them. "Perhaps you will see more clearly in time."
     Duncan watched as Horton walked seamlessly into one wall and disappeared, leaving him alone once more. But Duncan knew better than to believe he was truly alone. Ahriman watched him like a vulture circling it's prey. Waiting for the last of his will to drain away. He closed his eyes and cleared his mind as best he could. The images still danced before his awareness like windswept ghosts. He needed to find his strength and yet he didn't know where to look. He would wait. Eventually he would find the answer and he would have to count on Methos to take care of those he loved until he got back.

Tessa stirred. She had fallen asleep by Mac's side and now her shoulder and neck were cramped. She looked around the darkened barge and saw Richie asleep in one of the chairs, and Amanda pacing by the port windows.
     "How long have I been asleep?" She asked the raven haired immortal.
     "A couple of hours." Amanda said over her shoulder. Tessa could see she was nursing a glass of whiskey.
     "Has he moved, anything?" Tessa asked hopefully.
     "Not a thing." Amanda said shortly.

     Richie stirred a bit and opened one bleary eye. "Tess?"
     "It's ok Richie, go back to sleep." She said to him sweetly. She always felt very protective of the boy, ever since he had come to live with them. Now that she knew that he too was immortal like Mac, she feared for him even more.

Tessa got up and made herself a cup of coffee. She glanced over at Amanda who was still pacing like a stalked panther. She could see why Methos found her so attractive. She had a wildness about her that Tessa couldn't hope to match. If she wasn't so sure of Mac's love for her, she might have felt jealous.
     "What is like?" Tessa asked.
     "What is what like?" Amanda replied turning to face her.
     "Being immortal. Never growing old, never having to face the day that you look in the mirror and realize that you are no longer twenty or thirty?"
     Amanda looked at her deeply, trying to gauge the question. "I don't know, I guess, it's great not to have to worry about those things, but you have to watch your friends and your family die. To watch the things you knew fall away to be replaced by the new. To always have to move around, not to been seen for too long until people start to notice…"
     "I guess it's not easy either." Tessa commented.
     "It does have it's advantages, " Amanda said with a brief sad smile. "But at least you don't have to keep wondering who's coming along to take your head all the time. It does get quite noisome sometimes."
     "I have an idea what that is like. Every time I watch Mac go out that door, I wonder if he's going to come home, or whether some immortal will take his head and I will never know what happened. Never get to say goodbye.."
     "Goodbyes are overrated.." Amanda interrupted her. "Trust me I know."
     "Amanda, did you ever have someone, you know, that you loved, like I love Mac."
     "Once." Amanda said, her eyes becoming glazed with remembrance. Catching herself she quickly turned towards the window. "It was a long time ago."
     Tessa wrapped her hands around her coffee cup letting the warmth of it seem into them. "I'm sorry." She said softly.
     "Yeah, well you know, after a while you learn to move on." Amanda said with sudden aloofness.
     "I don't think it would be that easy for me." Tessa said sadly, glancing over where Mac lay, unmoving.
     "You're a lucky lady." Amanda said with a genuinely warm smile.
     "Yes, I am"

Joe rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. He glanced over at Methos who was still pouring through the watcher texts for something, anything that would help MacLeod. He was on his twelfth cup of coffee and his prosthetic legs felt heavy. "Don't you ever get tired?"
     Methos looked up from the onerous text and gave Joe a small grin. "Occasionally. I never let it show though."
     "Have you found anything?"
     "A little, bits and pieces here and there. It's slow going though, it's been ages since I actually spoke Aramaic."      Methos looked at Joe with a sidelong glance and seeing the obvious fatigue he added. "You should really try to get some rest. I'll keep going here."
     "We only have 24 hours left." Joe pointed out.
     "I realize that." Methos said, "but you won't be any good to me half asleep. Get a few hours, and I'll wake you up when I find something important."
     Joe sat and looked at Methos for a moment and then rose painfully to his feet. "Yeah, I guess your right. Just a few hours though, Ok?"
     Methos smiled at him. "Don't worry, I'll wake you in plenty of time. Joe nodded and then turned and went to lay down on his single bed. Methos watched him struggle with his legs as he sat on the edge of the mattress. In a moment he was aware how much Joe had given up when he turned down Ahriman's offer. His eyes went back to the page before him and he continued to read. They were running out of time.


Duncan sat for what seemed days, years, a lifetime. The images of his life still poured like rain through his mind. "Just walk away MacLeod." Horton's voice still whispered in his ear. 

He fought back the urge to scream back.

     He sat in the stillness and waited. He began to think of all the friends he had, and the ones he had lost. Methos, Joe, Amanda, Fitzcairn, Richie, Darius… Darius. Duncan's mind drifted back to his first meeting with the cloaked figure on the battlefield in France. The feeling of another immortal and the face of saint that greeted him. Darius had walked away from the game, stayed on holy ground no longer willing to wage war on his fellow immortals and trying to bring peace and love to mankind. He thought of the long talks that he had with him and remembered the feeling of envy in his heart that he too could not walk away. He had tried once, only to come back and fight again. But if he followed Darius' example, Ahriman would be free to begin his reign of darkness, something that MacLeod couldn't allow. Too many of his friends had been sacrificed on the altar of evil for him to turn his back on them.
     Then there was Cassandra. The Donnan witch who had first let him know he had been chosen. He let his mind wander back to the days in the woods where she sat and talked with him, and back to the time when her own student had tried to use her magic of the voice and will to kill them both. He remembered looking into his own face, his own eyes. "Good will always triumph over evil." He had said to himself. There was an answer here somewhere. He just needed to keep searching.

Methos could barely see the page before him. His eyes were blurred with sleeplessness. He cast a glance at his watch. 5 am. He rose to waken Joe. "Come on rise and shine princess." His voice laced with fatigue and sarcasm.
Joe stirred and then put a hand to his eyes as the rising sun from outside struck them. "What time is it?" He asked groggily.
     "Five in the morning."
     Joe sat upright. "Christ Methos, you let me sleep all night."
     "That's ok, you needed it."
     Joe got to his feet somewhat unsteadily and walked to the table. "Anything?"
     Methos looked up at his companion and then after a few moments grinned. "I think we have a winner."


Amanda woke up with a jolt. The resounding rush of another immortal nearby had her instantly awake. Richie was up on his feet already. Amanda looked at the young immortal with a questioning look. Richie walked to the window.    "It's ok, Methos and Joe are back."
     Amanda sighed. "Just when I was getting a few hours beauty sleep." Turning to where Mac lay, she checked on his condition. Tessa was there as before, her hands woven into his, lying next to him on the floor, her head on his chest.
"Well at least someone is getting their rest." She said sarcastically.

As Methos and Joe entered, Tessa had woken and gone to the bathroom to wash her face. Her hands and body were cramped again from being in an unnatural position all night. She looked at the mirror and saw her own haggard features staring back. She poured out some cold water and splashed it on her face. As she looked up again she saw a vague shadow behind her and she heard a whispering voice. "Tessa."
     "Mac?" She yelled out, turning around. The room behind her was empty. She ran into the other room where everyone was staring at her expectantly.
      "I just saw him, Mac."
      "Where?" Joe asked, looking over to the sofa where MacLeod's body still lay.
      "In the mirror. I heard him, he called out to me."
      "That's a good sign." Methos cut in. "We have to hurry."
      "What's going on?" Tessa cried out frustrated and angry.
      "I'll explain everything in good time but first we have to get Mac on to Holy Ground."
Amanda, Richie and Methos all looked at each other and then Amanda, taking the lead grabbed her leather jacket and headed for the door. "Let's go."


They loaded Mac's body into the car. Tessa stepped in back and laid his head on her lap, cradling it. She looked down at the face she had grown to love with all her heart and soul. "Don't worry Mac, we'll get you back." She whispered to him gently, combing her fingers through his raven hair.
     Methos had Richie get in front, along with Joe. "Go to the church on 245 La Chance Rue. Amanda and I will meet you there."
     Richie nodded, "Where are you going?" He asked.
     Methos gave Richie an enigmatic smile. "There's a few phone calls I have to make." Leaning further into the car, he looked at Joe. "Explain things to them."
     Joe looked back at him quizzically. "Everything?"
     Methos nodded. "It's time they learned the truth. And remember, hold on to what you know, time is growing short, and soon you will start to forget."
     Joe nodded grimly and Richie peeled off down the causeway.
     "What now?" Amanda asked.
     "Walk with me," Methos answered. "There is a few things you should know."


Richie raced for the church. As he pulled along side the iron gates of the old church he felt the familiar buzzing in his head. Looking around he spotted a cloaked monk standing just inside the gates expectantly. His mind was still reeling from the reality of what Joe had just told them.
     "Well I'll be damned." Joe said softly as he saw the familiar face at the gates. "Darius."
     "Isn't he supposed to be dead too?" Richie asked Joe still not believing all of it.
     "Yeah," Joe replied. "Supposed to be."

     Tessa said very little, her full concentration on Duncan. She had taken in what Joe had said, but still she knew nothing else except the man in her arms.
     Darius opened the gate and helped Richie take Mac's body inside. He nodded his greeting to everyone and ushered them into a small dark room with an altar of stone in the middle and a large cross suspended above it.
     "Darius." Joe greeted him. "How did you know we would be here?"
     "Methos called me a few moments ago. He explained everything to me." Darius replied calmly.
     "You are taking this better than I am" Richie commented. "This is all too crazy for me."
     Tessa guided Macs head onto the altar as they placed him atop it's stone face.
     "It's a testing of your faith." Darius said quietly.
     "Yeah, sure." Richie shot back sarcastically.
     "So what now?" Tessa asked, looking at Darius expectantly.
     "Now we wait."


Amanda was floored to say the least. She had listened quietly to Methos' tale and tried to imagine her life as he had described it. "Mac and me, how silly." Yet her insides betrayed her. She knew that she had loved Duncan from their first meeting and Tessa's words to her the night before had drilled a hole in her heart. She had no malice against the beautiful blond woman who was, or at least had been the love of Duncan's life, but knowing that she had shared in it, gave her a little thrill. Now she knew that in order to save the man she loved, that Tessa loved, they would need to make some difficult choices.
     Methos got off the phone and nodded to her. "It's done."
     "Now what?" she asked.
     "Now we go and finish it."

(To be continued - next week Part 4)

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Designed and Maintained by Lyria Wollich - 2001    

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