Then the Night Comes
By Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal
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A new Highlander: The Series fan 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.
Lavishly illustrated throughout by Leah Rosenthal (the samples shown here are cropped and reduced and do not do the artwork justice!) with a full color cover. 194 pages. Approximately 145,000 words. Ordering information can be found at the bottom of this document. Page down for a few excerpts of art and text. US buyers may pay below. Please email for international rates.
From the beginning...
Duncan MacLeod ran.
Richie is dead. I killed Richie.
Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he was aware of the presence of another Immortal. He knew it was Methos. The signature was slowly fading as he ran further and further away from the scene of the murder.
Richie is dead. I killed Richie. He remembered the sword slicing through all-too vulnerable flesh. He remembered the startled look in Richie's blue eyes. He remembered-God help him-the exultant sense of victory he'd felt at the moment the Quickening began. He thought he'd killed the demon.
He laughed through his tears, the sound ragged and hysterical. No mere human, even an Immortal human, could kill a demon. He remembered the Quickening, full of pain and evil, overflowing with Richie's screams of terror. With a sick, twisted feeling in his gut, he realized that Richie's essence now dwelt inside of him. He wished he could draw a sense of peace or of strength from the thought, but he really just wanted to throw up.
He ran into the night, away from the racetrack, still clutching Richie's glove in one hand, holding it so tightly that his whole arm was growing numb.
He didn't worry about Methos coming after him. Methos had already made it clear he wasn't going to help MacLeod by putting him out of his misery.
Richie is dead. I killed Richie.
He began to cry harder and ran, mindlessly, all hope fled in the face of his pain, in the face of his failure. How could he have ever had the pride to think he was the champion of good? The world's savior? How could he have allowed Richie to involve himself in this insanity? Panic clutched at his heart. He had to make certain his other friends were safe. If they came near him now, the demon might trick him again, might make him kill them. He would have to make doubly certain that they didn't interfere again. Even without his sword, Duncan MacLeod didn't doubt his own ability to kill.
Richie is dead. I killed Richie.
There was nothing left for him now. He had judged other Immortals guilty of lesser crimes and still passed sentence on them. If Methos wouldn't take his head, he'd have to find someone else who would.
He ran, even though the breath was rasping in his throat, even though his lungs were burning in the cold night air. No matter how fast he ran, though, he still heard the demon laughing at him.
Joe Dawson wept. Methos held him and rocked him, uncharacteristically at a loss for words. There were no words of comfort adequate to the unspeakable event that had just taken place. He knew he should follow MacLeod. He could see MacLeod's sword lying under Richie Ryan's dead body and the Highlander was in no fit state to defend himself at the moment. Worse than that, Methos was afraid MacLeod could pose a danger to others. He'd already shown himself capable of indiscriminate, unconsidered murder the moment he'd taken Richie's head.
But Methos couldn't bring himself to leave Joe alone with the corpse-the remains of their friend. Methos knew Joe had watched Richie grow from a teenager into a man, and Joe had often spoken of him fondly during late night hours talking with Methos over a beer or two. Methos had barely known Richie Ryan from personal experience, but he knew much about the young man from the stories told by Joe and MacLeod over the past couple of years. He knew how deeply MacLeod had loved Richie. MacLeod had told Methos how he and Tessa rescued Richie from a life on the streets, how he had mentored the young man, had treated him like a brother, a friend...even a son. If he hadn't seen MacLeod kneeling over the dead body, nothing could have convinced him that the Highlander had killed his own student.
"Go after him," Joe said, the words-echoing Methos' thoughts-muffled against Methos' shoulder. "You've got to go after him."
"Later," Methos said soothingly. "We've got to take care of Richie first."
"Richie is dead!" Joe yelled, pulling roughly away from Methos' embrace and wiping at his tear-streaked cheeks with the sleeve of his wool coat. The salt-and-pepper of his beard still glistened wetly from his grief. "We can't help him! Do you want to lose Mac, too?"
"No." Methos shook his head, feeling his own eyes fill with moisture. His heart was breaking, not only for Joe but for the loss of Duncan MacLeod's sanity. He'd risked his own life before to save MacLeod. He would do it again if he thought there was any hope of redemption. But he feared that MacLeod was too far gone this time. "No," he repeated, staring at Joe with as much sympathy and concern as he could muster.
"Don't look at me like that," Joe said, sniffling still. "I've seen worse; I've survived worse. I'll be okay. I'll call a team in. We'll deal with Richie." He hesitated a moment, running one shaky hand through his graying hair. "Please, Methos. Go after Mac?"
Methos glanced in the direction MacLeod had disappeared, remembering the wildness in his friend's dark eyes, the desperation in MacLeod's voice as he had begged Methos to end his life. He shook his head again. "I don't know what to do when I find him, Joe. This is way beyond my ability to cope."
"Just find him," Joe insisted. He leaned over, barely able to balance with the aid of his cane, and pulled MacLeod's katana out from underneath Richie, swallowing hard when he saw the spreading pool of blood next to the body. He held the blade out to Methos, frowning when he wouldn't accept it from him. "Take Mac his sword. He's defenseless right now and we still don't know what happened here tonight."
"Oh, come on, Joe!" Methos didn't hide his exasperation. "We both know what happened! Mac was delusional! He was hallucinating for days before this. He obviously thought Richie was this... this...demon he's been raving about, and he killed him! He knows now that he made a mistake...but for how long? How long will he be lucid? He'll be going after my head next!"
"Fine," Joe grated out. "If you're frightened of him, I'll go. You stay here and wait for the Watchers to come and clean up the... clean up..." He broke down and began to cry again. "Damn it," he sobbed. "I'm not going to lose Mac, too. Whatever happened, he's still our friend. He needs our help."
Methos sighed heavily, patting Joe on the shoulder. He hated to see anyone cry, although heaven knew Joe had more than enough reason to lately. They'd already offered MacLeod their help earlier that night and been rebuffed. But, he wasn't going to stand here over the corpse of Richie Ryan and argue with Joe when his friend was so openly distressed. He'd never seen the stocky, solid looking Joe appear so frail and vulnerable. He often had to remind himself that Joe was only mortal, subject to mortal frailties, and approaching fifty years old, with two prosthetic legs, besides. There was always just something about Joe that made him seem stalwart, like someone who could be leaned on. Something that made him seem like someone who would never break, never grow old, and never need comforting himself. Methos realized that, at that particular moment, there was probably nothing he could bring himself to deny Joe.
"All right. I'll go," he said, giving in. He took MacLeod's sword, trying not to look at Richie's blood still staining the blade. He made a mental note to make certain he cleaned the weapon before he returned it to its owner.
Joe was already pulling out his cellular phone and making a call to Watcher Headquarters. His voice on the phone was all business, which at least reassured Methos that he could handle the matter.
Joe raised an eyebrow at Methos and inclined his head sideways. "Go," he mouthed even while he began making the arrangements for someone to come and help him to remove Richie's body.
From one of the Egyptian flashbacks...
Methos twisted his head around and squinted into the sun again. Their problem was that there was no truly adequate cover along this section of the desert road. Kronos was already running, hunched over, for a small dune. Sighing in irritation, Methos got up and ran to join him, sliding over the slight rise and immediately flipping over onto his stomach to crawl back to the top of the mound.
Cautiously, both men peered down at the road and waited as the faint sounds of the approaching party gradually grew louder. Mere moments passed before two horses, pulling a heavy war chariot, came over the far western dune. A tall, ruddy-skinned man rode in the chariot and two other men, similar in looks and coloring, strode next to him. All three wore simple loincloths and aprons, their chests bare and their shaved heads exposed to the sun.
"Hyksos," Kronos hissed. He glanced sideways at Methos. "Apophis' men?"
Methos bit at his lower lip, nodding a curt agreement. "The chariot bears Apophis' seal," he pointed out.
"We'd better stop them. They've got no business being this far south. Kamose controls Upper Egypt."
Methos had to agree, but their mission to Bahariya was urgent and clearly defined. Kamose was counting on them to deliver his orders to the troops already stationed at the oasis. If the message never arrived, Kamose would end up halfway to Avaris without the backup from the desert side of the city he was expecting. Of course, there was no way the prince could have predicted his messengers would run into agents of the enemy along this road.
Methos stared down at the hot sand, weighing the consequences of attacking the soldiers against their need to continue on to Bahariya.
"Well?" Kronos prompted him, after several moments of silence. The small group below them had passed their hiding place by with nary a glance and was continuing on towards the east at a fast walk. "They're going to get away."
"I'm thinking," Methos snapped. "Do you think we should attack them?"
"Yes! Why not?!" Kronos was ready for action, already scrabbling to his feet, his hand on the hilt of his sword.
Methos snagged him by the bottom of his fringed tunic and dragged him back down onto the sand. "Just a minute."
"There are only three of them! What are we waiting for? There are two of us. It's hardly a contest."
"Your arrogance astounds me."
Kronos grinned. "No it doesn't." He fingered the amulet he wore on a leather string around his neck. "Two Immortals against three very fragile mortals and the scarab Kamose gave me to protect us, as well. As I said, no contest."
Methos bit back the instinctive sarcasm that threatened to escape him. Kronos was ruthless in many ways, brilliant in many others, but ultimately as naÔve in his beliefs as the natives of this land at times. In two thousand years of life, Methos didn't think he'd ever seen true magic that couldn't be disproved as a trick of some kind, and he was certain the closest thing he'd ever seen to true gods were the members of his own race of Immortals. "You don't really think that scarab will give you some kind of magical protection?"
Kronos shrugged, a gleam in his eyes. "Kamose believed it when he gave it to me."
"He gave it to you because he knows you're Immortal and he didn't know how else to explain your 'rebirth' right in front of his eyes. Really, you should have been more careful. It's always trouble for us, in the end, when one of us dies in front of mortals."
"It turned out all right this time."
"Yeah, because you were lucky. Next time might be different."
The three Hyksos were almost out of sight along the eastern stretch of the road by this time. Methos stood up and stretched, brushing the sand from his clothes. He blinked into the sun to the west. It would be below the horizon before too much longer. They would have to act quickly.
"You have a plan?" Kronos asked, his eyes lighting with anticipation as he looked up at his companion.
"Yes," Methos nodded. "I think you were right, after all. I think we'd better get after them."
Kronos sighed loudly, rolling his eyes. "We could have done it while they were still right here," he complained.
Methos was already sliding down the side of the dune and back to the road. He was used to Kronos' complaints and impatience. His companion was a brilliant warrior and possessed a quick mind, but he never liked to stop and think matters through. "The sun would have been in our eyes," he explained, patiently. "Now we will follow them and wait until dark."
From later in the novel...
"Thank you," MacLeod said, almost as if he could read Methos' mind, the searching look straight into his friend's eyes unnerving in its intensity.
Methos could only gulp, swallowing down a sudden swell of unwanted emotion. "For what?" He wanted desperately to look away, but he couldn't, caught and held prisoner by MacLeod's steadfast gaze.
"Just for being here," MacLeod said, with a shrug, but the casualness of his words were still belied by the glint of moisture in his eyes.
They stood, their hands tightly bound and clasped, their swords clutched in opposite hands while Cassandra placed a warm palm over their fists, closing her eyes.
"Hand to hand, blade to blade," she chanted, "By cord and blood, the bond is made. One in power, one in steel. Purify the sacred wheel."
For a moment, there was silence around them, even the constant howling of the wind dying down, the soft hiss of the falling snow muted as time itself seemed to pause. Methos opened his mouth, driven to make yet another sarcastic remark when suddenly the wind roared back to life and an invisible bolt of lightning hit him square in the chest, the impact driving the breath out of his lungs. His eyes widened involuntarily and he grunted from the shock and pain, staggering and pulling MacLeod sideways with him.
From later in the novel...
Methos stepped closer to her, almost into the ring of light. In the mist, with half of his face painted blue, the other practically translucent, and his eyes setting off sparks of light, he seemed like a creature from an Irish fairy tale. "Damn you," he said.
For any questions regarding Leah Rosenthal's artwork, please e-mail her at email@example.com
Also now available:
The Lightning's Hand, a sequel to Then the Night Comes!
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 and #2, an adult Highlander zine. Heavily Methos oriented .
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