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Shades and Shadows (conclusion)

By Lyria Wollich - 2000

Duncan felt a sudden warmth all around him. He opened his eyes to find himself no longer in a maze, but in a chapel. Warm multicolored hues danced all about him as the sunlight streamed in from the stained glass windows above. For a moment, he felt a peace he had never known. Curious he rose to look around him. The relentless stream of memory and thought had stilled and though he was alone, he was at peace. This was not to last however, as the presence of Ahriman returned and drove away the light.

"So Highlander, you seek sanctuary in this place." Horton's face twisted with repulsion. "How sad. You have learned nothing from your mistakes, and still insist on having your own way. So be it."
Duncan looked at his nemesis with new insight. There was no hate, no fear, no anger, only pity. The figure of Horton began to pace within the confines of the stone walled room. "So what do you hope to achieve here?" he asked Mac, his eyes filling with rage. "Do you honestly hope to fight me and win? How little you know about the power which I wield. I will strip all you know from you and leave you alone to rot in your anguish, you ungrateful cur. Through my wrath you will know the utter hopelessness and emptiness of being that my anger will rain upon you." Horton began to laugh wildly, a mad laugh full of malice and evil.
     Duncan moved back towards the stone altar that lay at the room's center and sat upon it's cold face, the light from the windows striking his face. "Bring it on." He uttered, closing his eyes to the vision of hatred that stood before him.

Darius sat quietly as Joe Dawson and Richie paced within the confines of the room. "How can you just sit there?" Richie asked the ancient immortal.
"I have learned that nothing is to be gained by impatience." Darius responded folding his hands into his lap.
A moment later, Richie and Darius felt the rush. Darius rose quietly. "Wait here." He said softly and exited the room.
Tessa could no longer hold back the well of emotions surging within her. He tears fell silently on Duncan's face as she began to understand the pain she must have caused him in the last few days.

In his place on the altar Duncan felt a cool wetness descend on him, as a rain from the heavens began to fall on his place on the altar. He raised his hands in the air, face and palms upward, and took in the blessed cool water that hit his face. "Tessa." He said softly.

One by one they filed in. First Methos and Amanda then Fitzcairn, Darius and finally Connor MacLeod.
    "I think we're all here." Connor announced with his stoic witticism.

Greetings were exchanged all around. The enormity of what they were facing however, was upon them and in short order the all arranged themselves in a chained circle around the altar, except for Methos who stepped forward to place an old talisman around Duncan MacLeod's neck. He stepped back into the circle and joined hands between Amanda and Connor.

Methos began to sing an old chant that filled the room with resonance and beauty. The other's joined in as best they could, all looking upon the body of their fallen friend, and in union, they were strong and united. In each of their minds they were aware of what they were giving up. Some their lives, some the promise of a better future, but in all they were their for Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. A shining white pillar of light appeared in the center of the circle, just off of where he lay. In each of them stirred doubt, fear, but most of all love. One by one, the fallen moved towards the light, the chain reunited by the hands of those who remained.


Duncan's mind was suddenly filled with music. The cherubic sounds of angels as the sang in choir around him. A pillar of light appeared just to his left and soon he found his mind wandering.

Duncan re-awoke to find himself in a pub. Sitting there was his old friend Fitzcairn. He was drinking a dark ale from a mug. Fitzcairn turned to greet him.
     "Fitz?" Duncan said, his heart filled with joy.
     "Greetings." Fitz replied in turn raising his mug high. "It's been a long time."
     "Fitz, what are you doing here?"
     "As always MacLeod, sharing in the wonders of life." He turned to kiss a young beautiful lady by his side.
     "You haven't changed a bit have you?" Duncan asked, a wide smile covering his face.
     "And why should I," the jovial Fitzcairn exclaimed to his friend. "It's all about living life to it's fullest, now isn't it."
     "You were always a trouble maker," Duncan insisted.
     "Till the day I died." Fitz proclaimed proudly, raising his mug once again to the room. Lowering his glass he whispered in Mac's ear conspiratorially, "What is the good of life, if you can't enjoy it?" Leaning over, he gave the girl sitting to his right a great big kiss. Duncan turned away.
     "That's your problem, MacLeod," Fitz continued. " You never really appreciated the fruits of pleasure. With you it was always work and justice, if you had ever really taken the time…" Fitz's words were cut short by the a tug from the wench that re-engaged Fitz in a passionate kiss.
     "I'm sorry old friend." Mac intoned, realizing that Fitz had lived out his life as he had wanted. To love and be loved.
Coming up for air Fitzcairn stared him squarely in the eye. "Don't be sorry, MacLeod. Be joyous in what you have learned and experienced. No regrets."
      A sense of guilt rose up in Duncan. "But…"
     "No doubts, MacLeod. Only joy! That's all we have in this life." Fitz exclaimed.

Duncan smiled. Fitz had always lived his life without the threat of consequence. Yet he palpably saw the joy in his immortal companion's face.
     "Live for today MacLeod," Fitz shouted over the rising din. " No regrets." And as the last words left his mouth, Fitz' image disappeared in the mists of Duncan's mind.
     "Goodbye friend." He called out after him.


Duncan walked through the mists to be met by Richie. The young immortal that he had met and grown to love through Tessa.
     "Hey Mac," Richie's voice said through the mists. Slowly his form became visible. Mac was seated at the chessboard upon his barge.
     "Richie," Mac responded, moving the knight on the board.
     "Mac," Richie said, his voice full of emotion. "I just want to say thank you for giving me a chance."
     "At what?" Duncan replied, looking up at his young student.
     "I know I didn't live up to what you wanted, but you taught me so much. I just wanted to let you know it meant a lot to me."

Duncan's eyes immediately went back to the game before him. What could he say to the young man whose life he had taken. "It's ok Richie." He said quietly.
Suddenly Duncan found himself in front of a tombstone bearing the engraving of Richie Ryan in front of him. The sky was cloudy and mists were all around him.
     "It's not your fault Mac," Richie said solemnly as he put his hand on Mac's shoulder. "We've all got to go someday, right?"

Duncan fought back the tears as he read the dates on the stone. "You never even had a chance."
Richie's words were calm and soothing. "You gave me a second chance Mac, you and Tess. You took me in where no one even cared whether I lived or died. You were family to me. Kick this guy's ass, ok?"
     Duncan nodded, tears welling into his eyes, "Goodbye Rich."
     "Goodbye Mac," Richie said, "I'll watch over her."

As suddenly as he had appeared Richie Ryan was gone. Duncan walked some more. He walked through the streets of Paris looking at all of the places he had seen before. He looked up and saw the church where he had first seen Darius again. He pushed back the iron gates and went inside to the chapel where the great wooden cross hung. The robed figure of Darius approached and knelt by him at the pew.
     "Darius." MacLeod greeted his friend formally.
     "Duncan." Darius' calm voice greeted in return.
     "I've lost everything." He explained to his long lost friend.
     "Only in your mind." Darius said, trying to explain. "Others have passed on so you could live."
     "But why me?" Duncan exclaimed, his heart aching from the loss.
     "Haven't you learned yet, Highlander, that you have never lost? That those who love you still live inside of you."
     "But why!" Duncan exclaimed again, tears filling his eyes.
     "For the greater good, " Darius explained. "You have lost your faith, but those who believe in you, in what you are, they will carry you forward."
     Darius rose from his seat beside Mac and looked at him with empathy. "Choose your path well MacLeod, and know that we are with you."
    Duncan looked up at his friend and nodded as Darius walked away into the mists. "Goodbye Darius." He said tearfully,
    "Goodbye Duncan MacLeod, till we meet again." Darius' disembodied voice came to him.
There was only one person left, and the one that Duncan most feared. Tessa.


Duncan's world shifted as he found himself sitting on a tour boat along the Seine. He looked up to see the beautiful face of young Tessa Noel. His eyes met hers and his heart rang out in song.
     "What do you thing you are doing." Tessa's rich French accent rung out.
     "I didn't want to miss this Tour." Duncan's smiling face replied.
     Tessa looked at him with irritation, but couldn't help smiling at the young rogue who had disrupted her tour. The mists enveloped the scene and soon he was standing at Tessa's grave.
    "How does it feel to loose her again." Ahriman's voice rang out in his mind.
    "Duncan?" Tessa's voice rang out behind him. Duncan turned to face the love of his life, the woman he would truly never forget.
     "Duncan, sit down." Tessa prompted him. He sat down on her grave stone and she joined him. "Mac, you are the love of my life," she began, her lowered eyes suddenly meeting his. "We knew somehow this time would come. You are immortal. You had to have known that sooner or later I would die and you would live on."
     Duncan's eyes strayed to the gravel walkway beside him. Yes he had known it would come, but he had hoped not so soon. That she would die of old age and that he would have twenty or thirty years more with her.
    "Duncan," Tessa said, "Look at me." She placed a finger under his chin, and smiled when his eyes met hers. "We had twelve wonderful years together. I would never give them up, for twenty more without you."
Duncan's eyes filled with tears and he reached out and hugged the only woman that he had ever truly loved. "I Love  You Tessa, I always have and I always will."
     Tessa sat in his warm embrace for a moment and then pushed him away. She looked into his eyes and said, "Do you love her?"
     Duncan sat back a little straighter. "Who?"
     "Duncan MacLeod," Tessa chastised him "You know very well whom I'm talking about."
     "Amanda?" Duncan asked, his eyes full of fear.
     "Yes, Amanda. I know that she loves you Mac."
     "Tessa it will never be what we had…"
     Tessa stopped him short. "Shh." She whispered, putting her finger up to his lips. "Love her Mac, like you did me. Don't have her live within my shadow, it's not fair. I will always be with you. Remember me."
     And with that Tessa Noel disappeared.
    "Goodbye Tessa." Duncan said. "I love you."


Suddenly another figure appeared in the mist. Horton.
     "So Highlander, it comes to this. You're pathetic friends gave up their life to save yours. How touching. So I guess there is no more to say…"


Only three immortals remained, and one watcher. 

Joe, Amanda, Methos and Connor all linked hands around Duncan's still form. Now was the time for faith. Connor broke away from the others and placed the MacLeod clan sword upon Duncan's still chest, wrapping his lifeless hands around the hilt.

"Don't forget," Conner reminded him. "You are Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod." With a smirk he added.     "And you still get all the fun and most of the good women."


Duncan opened his eyes. Around him was a circle of friends that still remained. Amanda, Joe, Methos and Connor. He gripped the hilt of the clan sword and raised it high. In seconds, the visage of Horton appeared before him, the ice blue eyes smiling, laughing. Duncan raised his sword above his head, and exclaimed. "I am Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod." Then looking at his friend Methos he added. "This is a good day to die."
     Sparks flashed as metal struck metal. All the rage and hurt that Mac had carried around had been replaced by the strength of his friends, who had voluntarily given up their life so that he could live. He fought like a wild man, and yet with a skill honed into him since childhood, his blade glowing with the strength of the love of those who had known him. The battle was fast and furious. Mac disconnected himself and let the movement flow, without thought or reason. He was justice and within him flowed the spirit of redemption. Finally, with a thrust to the heart, he slew the beast and with a flick of the wrists and arms, he took it's head.


The energy of the quickening burst up and out of him, the volcano had at last erupted. The stained glassed windows of the small interior chapel burst into multicolored shards of light, raining down on Mac's body like a rainbow of victory. His body shook and convulsed and finally with one shuddering, racking cry the room turned to stillness. The visions of all those whom he had seen pass away fluttered before him. "Goodbye." They all seemed to say.
      "There can be only one." He said, the voice of his cousin Connor along side his own."

Duncan collapsed on the floor and cried. Deep racking sobs of loss and remorse. Amanda ran by his side and held him close.

"Long time no see." Conner said, amused.
      Duncan turned from his seat upon the barge and smiled in return. "Connor."
      Joe turned to him and said "Glad to have you back, Mac." He leaned heavily upon his cane.
     "Good to be back, Joe."
     Methos took a quick look around. Looking at Mac he surmised the situation, and never being one for long goodbyes, he headed for the door. "Joe?"
     Getting the hint, Joe turned and headed for the barge door. He took one long last look at the clan MacLeod and bid his farewells. "It's been great working with you." He said more to Connor than to Mac.
Connor smiled that sassy smile and turned to his cousin. "I keep having to get you out of trouble."
     Mac smiled and looked at Amanda lovingly. "Thanks, Connor."
    Connor turned and walked out the door behind Methos and Joe.
    Amanda settled herself on Mac's lap, giving him a warm kiss. "You didn't say goodbye."
    "We never do." Duncan responded, returning her kiss.


The End


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Designed and Maintained by Lyria Wollich - 2001    

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