An alternate sixth season Highlander novel, written by Virginia Oatman.
Duncan MacLeod walked off into the mist at the end of “Not to Be”… or did he? Someone was waiting there for him… someone with the unwelcome news that his battle with Ahriman had never even been fought, much less won.
Will MacLeod have the courage to take a second chance when it is offered to him? And, this time, will he allow his friends to help him defeat Ahriman, once and for all? See below for some short excerpts from the novel.
Color cover by Ann Wortham. 136 pages. Approximately 115,000+ words.
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From the beginning of the novel...
A stranger at street level, bundled in dark outer garments against the night chill, features obscured, standing perfectly still, looked down at the tall, dark-haired man whose slow footsteps could be heard bouncing off the stone walls that separated the river quay he walked on from the stranger’s level above. The stranger mused that the square and noble features of the man’s face as he walked, the very way he carried himself, had undoubtedly turned many a female’s head in admiration on this very spot…in cheerier weather…in better times. But facial muscles now contracted the dark features so tightly, noticed the stranger, that one might think the man was afraid that if he relaxed them, he would explode on the spot. The stranger nodded and smiled, satisfied for now, as he turned and moved off, disappearing in a red mist.
Duncan MacLeod, the man on the quay, had just bid an agonizing farewell to his friends—Joe, Amanda, Methos. Then he looked around one last time at the deck of the “Amadeus,” strode down the gangplank, and walked off into the darkness of this cold, wet Paris night. His soul was in turmoil. So many he was close to were dead because of him. He thought about Tessa first of all and almost cried. Again.
So many in the last few years: Fitz, Brother Paul, Father Bernard, Darius, Sean Burns, Charlie DiSalvo, and last of all, Richie Ryan. Enough! Gritting his teeth and balling his fists up in his coat pockets, he was determined that no one else he loved would ever die because of him, ever again. The agony of almost losing Amanda that very night, was the last straw. Fitz and his visions notwithstanding, he would never again take the risk that his friends might be hurt because of him. He would, just simply, leave them all.
Hugh Fitzcairn—in his astonishing reincarnation as Duncan’s angel—had forced Duncan to grudgingly admit that his friends had been better off because he’d come into their lives to begin with. Not anymore, though. Lately it seemed to him like he’d been attracting enemies, old and new, like flies to an open wound. And when they were too cowardly to confront him directly, they concentrated their attacks on his most vulnerable weak points.
He had no real idea where he was going or what he was going to do with the rest of his life, though. How could he ever get close to anyone again without the risk that that person might die because of him?
He’d left his sword behind, too. He’d made a vow to never take another head or receive, in return, another Quickening.
So, what’s left? he mused. What do I do now?
Maybe he could bury himself in the contemplative life of a religious order somewhere and find the same peace there that Darius himself had found…from The Game…from the never-ending bloody ritual of cutting off a person’s head. No honor to this life. No point to it except to be the last one left standing, an ego-driven goal if ever there was one. Four hundred years ago his goal had been nobler. As the chieftain’s son he’d come to realize that by fighting and working for the clan—with all his strength, with all his intelligence, with all his heart—he could lead a life worthy of the effort. He had looked forward to that life. And then it had all been snatched away from him—clan, mother, father, friends, the very purpose of his existence—because he’d become Immortal.
There Can Be Only One.
No. He clenched his teeth more tightly as he continued walking. This was not a goal “worthy of the effort.”
Even his resolution to follow in Darius’ footsteps began to fade the further he walked away from the barge. No matter what he did or where he tried to hide, he would still be Immortal. He couldn’t escape from that unless…unless maybe it was time to end the whole thing. Take a last bow. Exit stage right, he thought bitterly.
And the darkness-that-knows-no-end began to envelop him…soothing, centering, narcotic. If I decide to go through with this, how exactly do I do it? Methos? How pissed off do I have to make him to take my head?
No. I can’t do that to a friend…not after Richie.
I have to do this alone, just let it go, not let it be something that adds to the burden of any other Immortal.
Train accident? Self-immolation? I bow to you, Madame la Guillotine. Charmed to finally make your acquaintance.
Going round-and-round with these, the blackest thoughts he’d ever thought in his life, he wasn’t looking at all at where he was going, and without any warning suddenly slammed into the chest of someone standing directly in front of him. He bounced off and had to step back awkwardly to keep from falling.
The man he’d bumped into was wearing an impeccably tailored tan suit and tie. He had curly light-brown hair and wrinkles in the corners of his eyes that spoke of someone who’d done a great deal of laughing in his life. The man wasn’t smiling now, though. His hands were on his hips and he was shaking his curly head and frowning dismally at Duncan.
“Laddie, when are you ever going to learn?”
From a little later in the novel...
Duncan MacLeod and Richie Ryan arrived in Paris on Tuesday morning after a very silent transatlantic flight. Richie was starting to think that, maybe, he never should have come at all. On the one hand, Mac just shook his head when Richie got anywhere near the subject of what Jenny had said on the phone. On the other hand, Richie could not shake his friend out of his glum shell no matter what he tried.
Paris brought MacLeod back to life, not Richie. They aired out the barge, uncovered the furniture, and started a fire in the wood-burning hearth stove to take the chill out of the iron that surrounded them.
The interior of the barge reflected Duncan’s tastes in a way that was very similar to his apartment in Seacouver. There was a single room, with the bow steps first leading down to a small landing, off of which was the bathroom. Continuing down, you first walked past the kitchen area with a counter and small refrigerator under it, and then on to the middle part of the barge which had the free-standing stove, a sofa and chairs for conversation, and a small dining table and chairs. At the rear of the barge was a raised platform with a bed. There was also a stern exit, up another set of steps to the left of the bed. Natural light came through some portholes, spaced evenly along the hull, port and starboard; and two large multi-paned windowed areas, one above the kitchen and the other, above and behind the bed.
It was always difficult to keep the barge “even-tempered.” Only in summer was it truly comfortable on a cloudy day. In spring and fall, and especially in winter, the beige walls, ceiling and floor radiated the cold right back at you. And if you heated the interior too much in the middle of winter, the iron walls would sweat like a beer can on a hot day, only in reverse. Not pleasant. On the other hand, sunshine could help make things very comfortable in winter, but absolutely unbearable in summer. The barge’s one asset in all this was its mobility, when MacLeod decided that, occasionally, he needed a different viewpoint on life.
After finishing move-in chores, Duncan sat down and absently started thumbing through the afternoon paper Richie had bought. The opera listings caught his eye and he decided to call for tickets to that night’s performance at the Opéra Comique. It had always specialized in Italian repertoire. They walked. It was only four kilometers and Duncan needed time to think.
Richie could see that something in his friend’s mood had changed for the better by the time the performance was over. He wasn’t sure whether it was the opera itself, this particular performance, or just the city continuing to work its magic, but they’d even stopped off for a glass of champagne at a local café before they crossed Pont-Neuf, Paris’s oldest bridge, and headed back home. A real fall chill was in the air and this combined with the still-warm waters of the Seine to make a damp white blanket of fog which folded them up within it, as they walked along the streets of the Latin Quarter near the river.
“I remember that bridge from another time,” said Duncan with his hands in his pockets, voluntarily speaking for almost the first time since Sunday night. “Did you know that equestrian statue is supposed to be the French king, Henri the Fourth? It’s a copy. I watched them pull down the original with ropes during the Revolution. They melted it for cannon, I think.” He could still see the mob in front of him, howling and cursing.
“Have you ever heard Jenny swear?”
Richie had gotten used to the way Mac abruptly changed topics sometimes, depending on where his train of thought and memories led him.
“You mean, as in four-letter words?” Richie looked at his friend.
“I can’t even imagine her saying that stuff. Does not compute.”
“That’s what I thought. It wasn’t her on the phone. She never used words like that even when she was telling me about D’Amato. Somebody’s playing very nasty games and I’ve got to find out who.”
He sighed and came to a decision. “I know we just got here. You can stay on the barge if you want, but I’ve got to get back to Seacouver tomorrow and straighten this out.”
“Why don’t you just call—” Richie realized immediately he’d said the wrong thing when MacLeod abruptly stopped walking and glared at him. He remembered that look. It said, “I am the teacher now. Think, pupil.”
“Oh, right. Gotcha.” He pointed at Duncan. “Phones cannot be trusted.”
They started walking again. Duncan picked up the pace. His step seemed a little lighter.
“It was the opera, too,” added Duncan.
“The opera. Remember? Lucia? We just spent three hours there?”
“Oh, yeah. Sure.” Richie was trying to cover his tracks. “Um, what was it again that clued you in?”
Duncan smiled and shook his head, but obliged Richie anyway. “Edgar gets called back to Scotland and Lucia says she’ll wait for him, but Henry, her brother, intercepts all of Edgar’s letters and forges one that he hands her to read instead. Edgar supposedly tells Lucia to drop dead because he’s found himself another lover back home. And that’s the point. She does drop dead. The tragedy of the rest of the opera hangs on that forged letter. What I’m saying, is that Jenny’s voice on the phone two nights ago wasn’t any more real than Edgar’s letter. It was phony…like Henri’s statue on Pont-Neuf…wasn’t real.” His voice had become barely audible by the end of this.
Richie, therefore, guessed that with this last opinion stated definitively, Mac wanted the subject closed. His guess was confirmed when his friend took a deep quick breath and changed topics.
“Opera is relevant to today’s world. So what do you think, Rich?”
Richie smiled to himself before answering. “I don’t know, Mac. I just…I don’t get opera.”
“Then maybe you should learn Italian.” Duncan urged, half-serious, as they were coming down the steps from street level to the quay.
Also now available:
Then the Night Comes by Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal. A new Highlander novel offering an alternative resolution to the fifth season cliffhanger Archangel and the aired sixth season episodes. Richie Ryan is dead at the hands of his best friend and mentor, Duncan MacLeod. Horrified at what he has done and believing he is pursued by an ancient demon known as Ahriman, MacLeod flees Paris to seek help from old friends in Cornwall. Joe Dawson, Cassandra, and Methos soon follow and the pursuit of who-or what-Ahriman truly is soon involves many of MacLeod's friends in a desperate race from Cornwall to Scotland to Wales. Along the way, Methos must confront more specters from his past, MacLeod learns a few lessons, Joe has a new friendship which is deepening, and Cassandra must learn to deal with a Methos who is, in many ways, different from the man she once knew. Flashbacks take our heroes from ancient Egypt to ancient Babylonia and to Barcelona, Spain along the way. Then the Night Comes is rated PG with no overt sex, either straight or slash.
The Lightning's Hand by Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal: A sequel to Then the Night Comes. Ahriman, a.k.a. Kummaya, has been defeated, our heroes have returned home for a well-deserved rest, and the ancient Sword of Nuada has been retrieved. All is well in Duncan MacLeod's world. Even his friends, some of them deadly enemies of each other, have managed to come to a truce of sorts. Several months have passed in relative normalcy. Of course, nothing in MacLeod's world ever stays normal for long! Whilst being moved from David Shaws' estate to the British Museum, the deadly sword is stolen...and it is feared that it has fallen back into the hands of an Immortal. MacLeod fears that Amanda has succumbed to a desire to own the object, while Cassandra suspects Methos...and, of course, Methos suspects Cassandra, who considered the sword a sacred relic. Suspects abound and the chase is on to find the culprit!
Reflections by Lynn Montgomery, a novel focusing on Methos and his days with the Horsemen. Joe and Duncan play major roles in the present-day segments. Rated adult for slash between Methos/Kronos and Methos/original character.
Revelations #1, an adult Highlander zine. Our first issue is extremely Methos oriented. In fact, there's not a single story without him in it! Mostly slash, with one heterosexual story. Revelations #2, our second issue has just gone into print (July 1999) and contains mostly Methos/Duncan stories. Check out the links for more details and ordering information. Submissions are now open for the next issue.
So Speaks the Hero #1, a Highlander genzine, is now available. Our first issue has a wonderful selection of stories and poetry. Tons of Methos fictions, Duncan, Amanda, Joe, Richie, Kronos...they're all here! Color cover by Leah Rosenthal; color back cover by Karen River. Illustrations by Dani Lane, Smap, Jorgensen and Rosenthal. Check out the link for more details and ordering information. Submissions are now open for the next issue.
Coming Soon: Cry Wolf, a sequel to Touched by Magic! Click here to read an excerpt!
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