Ashton Press Presents

Color CoverReflections

By Lynn Montgomery

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A Highlander: The Series slash fan novel, offering an alternative history to the current sixth season. The story takes place after "The Modern Prometheus" and "Archangel" never happened.

What could destroy Death? What memories, after three thousand years, still have the power to shatter Methos’ soul?

Joe’s efforts to repair Duncan’s and Methos’ wounded friendship crash as they reach Egypt and Methos is confronted with his former life. Not just his years as Death, but Death’s actual destruction, haunts Methos as he is faced with the memories and landscape of three millennia before. As Joe and Duncan struggle to understand the motivations of Death—and what could possibly destroy that confidence and persona—Methos must struggle to regain that confidence and reestablish his very identity. All he has known is called into question, including his very ability to love. His only hope: to go back in time, confront those memories, and travel the same road he’d traveled three millennia before. With Joe and Duncan as his audience, Methos weaves the tale, reliving as he does so the destruction of Death and how the love of two very different men brought him back from the edge. But as he spins his tale—and tries to rebuild his life—he has to meet Duncan’s judgment head on, and Duncan must learn to accept Kronos in the role of a hero; friendship and identity hang in the balance.

Reflections is an adult novel containing graphic violence and sex, including male/male pairings (Methos/Kronos, Methos/Caspian and Methos/Jakata, an original character). If this kind of story isn't your cup of tea, please do not order. This zine will not knowingly be sold to anyone under the age of 18.

Illustrated by Leah Rosenthal, F. Cade, C. P. Foster, and Maryann Jorgensen (the samples shown here are cropped and reduced and do not do the artwork justice!) with a full color cover. Approximately 241,000 words, 281 pages. Page down for a few excerpts of art and text. US Buyers may pay below. International buyers please email for rates.

Reflections on Paper

From the beginning…

"Stop griping." Mac scowled toward the unwilling passenger in the back seat. "You agreed to come along."

Joe Dawson shook his head from his position in the passenger’s seat and let the two Immortals bicker. Hell, they’d been at each other for a full month now…since they’d decided to band together and show Joe a bit of the world.

While they could agree on the general concept, each of them had very different ideas on just what Joe should be shown. Unfortunately, Mac—with his determination to show Joe spots of cultural and historical significance—had won out thus far. Not that Joe only wanted to see bars and other night spots, but a mix, heavily weighted toward the latter, would definitely hold more appeal.

"I agreed that Joe should see the world." Methos kicked at the back of the front seat just behind Mac. "But I had thought we might show him the living world, not the dead stuff you seem to have such a fascination with."

"Oh," Mac’s tone turned sarcastic, "I suppose you don’t want to show him the pyramids, then. They’re just tombs, after all."

Joe turned around and watched Methos carefully. He sat lengthwise on the seat, one leg bent so the foot rested against the back of the seat, the other leg banging incessantly just behind Mac’s back. He had his arms folded against his lean chest and his lower lip jutted out in a damned good pout. Five thousand year old man, bullshit; he looked more like a petulant five year old.

"Oh, I’d show him the pyramids, all right, but without the damned tour guide." Methos landed a particularly strong kick to the back of Mac’s seat. "I doubt any of the tour guides actually watched them being built."

"Stop kicking my seat."

"Make me." He punctuated the statement with another vicious stab at the seat with his foot.

"I said to stop it."

Time to cut in, Joe decided. Things were bad enough without having to put up with childish bickering. "Children, can you both please stop this? I want to see the pyramids," Mac snorted with contentment, "but I’d like Methos to show me." Methos launched a triumphant kick into the seat.

Egypt had been a bad idea, Joe realized. Hell, the entire trip was a mistake. Sure, Joe had always wanted to travel, and who better to guide him than two men who had lived fifty-four hundred years between them?

Just about anyone, Joe had begun to realize.

Oh, he’d had a secondary reason, too. From the time Kronos had shown up in Seacouver, these two had been alternately glaring at each other or walking on eggshells with every single word. The eggshells had been tossed out for this trip—they’d settled in to sniping and glaring with amazing speed.

Truth was Mac still resented Methos for not divulging his history with the Four Horsemen. Of course, Methos was still pissed that Mac refused to even consider Methos’ reason for not telling Mac: that Mac would react badly. Of course, the fact that Mac had reacted exactly as Methos had predicted hadn’t helped matters any at all.

Now they were wandering a country where Methos had spent more than a few centuries. Once or twice, Methos would start to whisper some background to Joe, only to have Mac shush him. Simple jealousy, Joe knew. If Methos wouldn’t tell Mac his history, he wasn’t allowed to tell anyone.

Of course, if Mac had simply asked….

A conversation from over a year before came back to Joe.

"What was it like at the start?" Joe put a beer in front of Methos, then took a seat across the table from him. The bar had closed only a half hour before but, with Methos’ help, the place was cleaned up and Joe could call it a day.

"At the start of what?" Methos sipped at his beer, but kept his gaze on Joe.

He shrugged. "The start of your memories. The start of the Game. The start of civilization. Any of it. All of it."

"For the Chronicles?"

Joe tried to pretend it didn’t hurt. He’d known Adam Pierson for nearly ten years but, he reminded himself, he’d only known Methos for over a year. Maybe Methos did still have to be cautious, but it didn’t make the comment hurt Joe any less. "What am I gonna put in there? These are the recollections of an Immortal…who I’m not supposed to talk to; who lived thousands of years ago…but isn’t Methos? This is for me." He waved his hand when he realized how stupid he must sound. "I don’t know…I figure you’ve seen things that aren’t even recorded in the history books and I just want to know what it was like back then. Forget I asked, okay? You don’t have any reason to tell me."

"You’re my friend, that’s reason enough." Seemingly satisfied with Joe’s answer, Methos leaned back in his chair and stared at Joe intently. "It’s just been a long time since anyone has asked…." His words trailed off and Joe could hear the hurt.

"You mean Mac’s never…?"

A shrug that tried very hard to appear casual preceded the answer. "Perhaps it’s for the best. He’s lived in a very different time. The things I’ve done…he might not accept them. Maybe he hasn’t asked simply because he’s afraid of what he might find out." Those hazel eyes turned on Joe and seemed to hold him in his seat. "You sure you want to know?"

"We’re none of us perfect," Joe smirked in reply, tossing back a line Methos seemed to have taken for his mantra lately. "Look, you tell me what you want to. Lord knows there are things I’d rather not have to relive in the telling again, and I’ve only been alive one percent of your lifespan."

"Don’t make me feel any older than I am." Methos chuckled. "And thanks for asking. Let’s see, where to begin…?"

The stories had started slowly, cautiously, and had focused more on what life was like at the time, rather than Methos’ part in it. Either way, though, Joe always hung on every word and longed for more. The stories had stopped once Methos’ past with the Horsemen was revealed. Joe had hoped, by picking a place Methos had mentioned knowing well, that the stories might begin again.

Mac’s petty jealousies had made sure that hadn’t happened. Maybe if you’d asked him about his past, he would have told you. Joe glared the words at Mac, but said nothing for a while. Instead, he turned his attention to the landscape passing outside their car. Dry, barren, desolate hills covered with the barest scrub surrounded them on all sides. The only interruption was the black strip of road that stretched empty for miles in front of and behind them.

Joe shook his head and finally looked over to Mac. "You sure you’re right about this? There’s a farm out here…in the middle of this?"

"Don’t ask him a question. He’ll think you’re actually interested," Methos sniped from the back seat.

Too late. Mac already wore a shit-eating grin that said he’d taken Joe’s question as a sign of interest, as a victory for his choice of the day’s activities. "That’s part of what’s so fascinating about it. It is the only farm for miles, and yet it is one of the largest in the region. And they keep part of the estate as living history: farming and working as they did when the farm was started."

Methos settled deeper into the seat and closed his eyes. "Oooh, ancient farm implements. That’s too much for me. Wake me when you get back to the car, okay? Too much excitement isn’t good for me."

Swallowing a fit of laughter, Joe looked at the landscape around them. He could understand Methos’ less-than-enthusiastic response. While unwilling to be quite so rude about it, Joe shared the sentiment.

He longed to ask Methos if he’d been in this region before, if he might have seen this area when a large city had dominated the skyline. The tour book said the city had fallen about the time of Christ, leaving this region basically unpopulated, except for one farm that Mac must have dug out of an obscure tour book somewhere. A very obscure tour book—one that Joe wished would have stayed on whatever dust-covered bookshelf Mac had found it on.

Risking Mac’s annoyance, Joe decided to turn back to Methos and ask him about the long-dead city…only to find that Methos had been serious. The elder Immortal snored softly in the back seat.

"He’s asleep," Joe whispered to Mac.

Mac nearly growled in response. "At least it means he’s not kicking the seat anymore."

Okay, so conversation was probably out. Joe turned back and watched the scenery, straightening in amazement as the grays and browns of the desolate landscape suddenly ended, replaced by the vibrant green of an orchard on one side of the road and the shimmering gold of a field of healthy barley on the other.

"Wow." Joe tried to take it all in: the hum of the bees, the smell of the flowers in the orchards…even the pungent odor of truly natural fertilizer.

"The guide book says the estate is nearly self-sufficient." Mac slipped into tour guide mode. Joe had to admit that Mac had done his homework and researched each stop on the tour well. "Until the rise of modern technology, the farm was fully self-sufficient."

"And they still tend some of this using nothing but hand tools?" Despite himself, Joe was interested. Maybe Mac hadn’t done so badly after all.

Mac nodded and pulled into line behind a string of cars. "Just a small part. Apparently they have tried to restore a portion of their land to reflect the original farm…which was less than one percent of the current holdings."

Any further conversation ended as a young man motioned for Mac to roll down his window. He took a look at the three of them and obviously guessed at the language. "Three?"

Money was exchanged and Mac followed the instructions, pulling into a parking space near a mansion that they had been told was the main house. As Joe got out of the car, he watched people puffing up the hill from the main parking lot. Sometimes the fake legs did have their advantages.

Mac got out of the car and pulled open the back door less than gently.

"Let him sleep," Joe hissed.

"It’ll be too hot. Besides," Mac slapped Methos’ leg to wake him, "he wanted to take you on this tour as well."

With many muttered complaints, Methos finally did allow himself to be roused and trailed slightly behind the two as they slipped to the back of a group of nearly twenty people. The tour guide had obviously already begun his spiel, thankfully in English.

"The land you are now standing on was added to the holdings about two thousand years ago."

"Two thousand?" Joe whistled softly. He spoke up. "I’m sorry, we just arrived. How old is the main estate?"

The young man smiled warmly. "No apologies are necessary. I had not yet gotten to the story of this land. This nice lady had simply asked how old this part of the farm was. Your question will be answered at the start of the tour. If there are no more questions…."

"Where’s the beer?" Methos quipped.

A nervous twitter of laughter passed through the crowd, but the man at the front of the group merely grinned and pointed beyond the mansion. "The brewery is about one-half mile in that direction and is the last stop on the tour, so I will have to beg your patience. Beer has been brewed here almost from the start, as the founder’s lover had a fondness for the drink and brought the beer maker’s art to the estate." The young man seemed to challenge Methos with a pointed glare. "I should warn you, though, the recipe we brew is as ancient as the farm. It will not necessarily please the modern palate." He turned and motioned for them all to follow. "Now, if you will all come this way…."

Pity he couldn’t see the unadulterated joy on Methos’ face right now. "Ancient beer," he muttered happily, his eyes closed in an expression of pure desire.

"And you say I don’t take you anyplace fun," Mac replied with a grin.

Aha. Joe pushed a finger into Mac’s chest. "You did this on purpose. You knew about the brewery, didn’t you?"

A simple shrug, then Mac headed after the group. "Don’t want to miss the tour, do you?"

"I don’t suppose you’d simply let me meet you in the brewery…?" Methos looked up hopefully, but trailed after them, perhaps already sensing Mac’s answer.

"No."

"Didn’t think so," Methos muttered in Joe’s general direction. "Let’s go learn about ancient farming, shall we?" His face lit with false enthusiasm, Methos pushed past them and around the house.

Mac and Joe rounded the corner and nearly ran into Methos. He stood stock still, simply gazing down a gentle hill covered with a vegetable garden that seemed to have at least a little of everything growing within it, without real care to what crop grew in which row.

That garden was only the centerpiece of the landscape before them. Fruit trees dotted the far landscape to the left while, to their right, animals grazed contentedly in a field. Directly before them, another hill rose gently, covered with herbs and more vegetables. With the house out of their view, the scene could have come from any time…even millennia before Joe’s birth.

Even rooted within his short lifespan, Joe felt as if he had been transported to another time, long before his own birth; hell, long before Mac’s. But Methos? Had Methos seen a farm like this, maybe even spent some time tending to the soil? Tentatively Joe placed a hand on Methos’ shoulder, unwilling to break him from the trance he appeared to be in, but unable to deny the curiosity that ate at him. He desperately wanted to know what Methos saw…when Methos saw…what memories Methos saw. To hell with Mac and his jealousies.

Methos blinked as Joe’s hand settled on the shoulder, but he did not turn. His mouth worked soundlessly for a moment, but any words that might have followed were cut off when their tour guide stopped and turned back to them all, smiling when he took in their expressions. "This is the far edge of the first enlargement of the farm. The original plot, which lies just over that rise, was founded over three thousand years ago." He’d obviously done this before; he knew to pause and let everyone whistle or mutter to the person next to them. Joe figured he and Mac were probably the only ones looking to their companion to see if he’d been around when the place had been founded.

A woman at the front of the group shyly raised her hand. After the tour guide nodded in her direction, she asked her question in a thick Texas accent. "I thought I read that the estate has been in the hands of this family for quite a while. How long exactly?"

"My family owns this farm and has for just under three thousand years."

Another round of whistles, but Methos seemed oblivious to it all. His eyes looked out over the landscape as if trying to place himself both in time and space. He wetted his lips twice then, without tearing his gaze from a patch of lentils, whispered out of the side of his mouth to Mac. "Where are we?"

"Next time, maybe you’ll pay attention."

Great; all Joe needed was an Immortal argument on his hands. If he couldn’t hear Methos’ stories, he wanted to hear what the young man had to say. "Shush."

"Over three thousand years ago, a fifteen-year-old man named Jakata was given this plot of land. The truth is, he had been cheated out of most of his inheritance by an older brother, and left with only this plot which was as barren as the countryside you passed through to get here.

"But Jakata was not a man easily defeated. He simply accepted his fate, believing that the gods would punish his brother and those that had helped him. He settled here, lived in a tent and scraped at the soil. Eventually, he had enough to build a home and buy his first slave."

"Slaves?" The woman who uttered this sounded horribly shocked.

The young man shrugged. "Slavery was seen as an economic necessity in those days, and Jakata was a good master. He bought his slaves young, educated almost all of them, and eventually freed every single one. In all honesty, his slaves wound up better than many who had been born to freedom simply because many freedmen were not educated."

He waited for any other complaints, then went on. "Within ten years, the farm had grown to three times its original size and Jakata now had over twenty slaves working the land."

Their tour guide spoke of acreage and crops as he took them down the one gentle slope and up the other side. Joe half-listened, choosing to focus instead on the colors and sounds…and trying to picture Methos living this kind of lifestyle. Not that he would have, of course. Three thousand years before would have been during Methos’ tenure with the Horsemen.

As they crested the hill, Joe heard Methos’ gasp and turned to look at him, rather than the scene before them. Methos stood, again transfixed, but this time his face was pale, and his eyes seemed misted with tears.

"This," the young man continued, "is the original farm."

Joe turned and took it all in, now fully transported back in time. Before him stretched a three-thousand-year-old farm complete with a farm house, gardens, animal pens, crude brewery, fruit trees, a wall to their left that lined the entire area, and people in the costume of the period tending to the crops and the animals.

"We have restored the area to what we believe, using records of the time, it might have looked like."

"Why the large wall?" A cultured European accent spouted.

"Marauders and raiders traveled this land in great numbers three thousand years ago. This wall provided them some protection. Well, the wall and the world’s first insurance policy."

He paused long enough to see the question in the group’s faces. "The worst of these bands—a group many believe were the model for the Biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse—arranged a deal with Jakata. They would not attack his property as long as they were provided with an agreed upon list of supplies on a monthly basis. Not only did they not attack, but the other bands, fearing reprisals from the worst of the worst, also did not attack."

The Four Horsemen. Joe sucked in a deep breath and turned to look not at Methos, but Mac. Under hooded eyes, Mac watched Methos carefully, seeming to gauge the elder Immortal’s reaction. So Mac had heard these stories and had picked this place on purpose.

As much as Joe wanted to see the farm and hear the stories, he would not let Mac manipulate Methos like this. He reached for Methos’ arm to pull him back. They could go sit in the brewery and wait for Mac to finish the tour, or they could simply leave and let Mac find his own way back to the hotel.

"Are you descended from Jakata, then?" The Texan’s voice only slowed Joe slightly.

He put his hand on Methos’ arm and tried to get the Immortal’s attention, but Methos stood transfixed, perhaps transported back to when he would have demanded the tribute that their tour guide had mentioned.

"No, Jakata founded the farm, but he had no family. Here, let me back up a bit. Ten years after he started this farm, a mysterious slave appears within the estate’s history, named Buttakkan."

His hand still on Methos’ arm, Joe could feel Methos’ reaction to the name, and just managed to hear the slight gasp that escaped Methos’ lips. The elder Immortal took a step forward and away from Joe’s hand just as the tour guide continued his story.

"At the time, each slave had to have a record that traveled with him. This record listed their skills." The young man pulled a small slip of paper from his pocket. "Buttakkan was listed as speaking seven languages, reading five, skilled in mathematics, knowledgeable in crops and the care of horses, a talented swordsman and gifted in bedplay."

Laughter rippled through the crowd, but it was not reflected on the young man’s expression. He now had Joe’s full attention. "Slaves were often used for sex, and Buttakkan was no different. He became Jakata’s lover and, we assume from what happened, his beloved." He shook his head. "But think of it: three thousand years ago written language was a new invention, yet here was a man skilled in five different languages. It could well be sheer exaggeration on the part of Jakata…making his lover more than he was. After all, Jakata had no desire to sell Buttakkan, so he was not likely to ever be found out. Or he could have been a freedman captured by the Horsemen and brought here in payment for some of the goods they received."

Eyes closed, Joe could see Methos, three thousand years before, finding a diamond among their captives and wanting to secure the man somewhere his intellect could be used. Joe still could not imagine Methos as a murderer and rapist, although he knew it to be true, but he could see this image clearly.

"But, whatever the truth in the man’s skills," their tour guide’s voice forced Joe away from the images within his mind, "he did know enough to train the other slaves." The young man lifted his head, as if looking for someone. Without finding him, the guide continued. "It is Buttakkan that loved the taste of beer …."

Joe didn’t hear the rest. Suddenly aware of who their docent had been looking for, he started looking about him, finding only Mac’s confused gaze.

Methos was nowhere to be found.

"The brewery?" Mac offered as a possible explanation, then headed in the direction their tour guide had motioned earlier.

Certain that Methos’ sudden disappearance had nothing to do with beer, Joe still followed. It wasn’t like he had any better suggestion, after all.

Joe with Methos and Duncan

From one of the flashbacks…

"He’ll be out until at least tomorrow afternoon." Matim waited for an angry explosion for a beat, then decided it might be better to explain before Kronos got angry. "That amount would put most Immortals out for more than a day, but with Silas…."

"Silence!" Kronos laced himself into the armor and glared at Matim. "How long before he is oblivious to the world? I do not want him to hear us leave."

Matim rose and pulled his sword. "We are not leaving."

"What?!"

Matim took a deep breath and closed his eyes a second, still not believing he was doing this. But, die now or die later. Did it matter which? "We are not leaving."

Anger. Rage. Frustration. Matim expected one or all from Kronos. Instead, the Horseman sighed. "And why will you not ride with me this night?"

Nearly choked with shock, Matim hesitated for a minute before answering. "You have killed the only other man to see this…evidence. You have already warned me tonight how little I mean to you."

Each word came from Kronos’ mouth hard and cold. "I was angry. I will not kill you." Then that voice softened and he pulled the knife again; not as a threat, but to slice open his own palm. "I have never made a blood oath with any but my brothers. But I will give you my oath. Ride with me this night and I guarantee your safe return to your home." Blood welled around the blade.

Matim drew his own knife, part of him loathing the barbarian nature of the gesture, part of him exceedingly aware of how rare a step this was for Kronos. He sucked in a breath as the blade tore into his skin, then offered his palm to Kronos. The other Immortal grasped it, the barest upturn of the corners of his mouth evident. "My oath, Matim."

The blood dripped down their arms, even as Matim felt the skin pull shut and heal. Unclasping their hands, Kronos finished lacing his armor as Matim rubbed the itch of the newly healed skin.

Kronos’ oath: interesting concept. Matim wondered just how far he could push that oath; how many questions he could ask before Kronos would forget the gesture they’d just completed. Not certain where this sudden death wish had come from, Matim decided to try his luck.

"What do you expect to find?"

"Not now." Kronos tied off the last lace and grabbed his sword. "As we ride. Come."

Without bothering to see if Matim was following, Kronos strode out of the tent and started issuing the orders that would get them both horses and provisions for an overnight journey.

To make use of the limited daylight, Kronos pushed their pace upon leaving camp, driving the horses and themselves as hard as he could. As twilight began to drain the color from the landscape, and the detail from under the horses’ hooves, he slowed the pace and finally allowed himself conversation. "It shouldn’t be far now."

Matim knew the landscape well and knew the truth of Kronos’ statement. They still had an hour before total darkness, yet Kronos had pushed them hard. He’d wanted to get there before the darkness could hide them. He was not looking to surprise…whoever.

He tried the question again. "What do you expect to find?"

"My worst nightmare." Kronos’ voice sounded distant, both in tone and in subject. He was the leader of the most feared band of marauders, not the type of man to have nightmares, much less admit to them. "I searched for over twenty years to find the men that could help me fulfill my ambitions." Kronos spoke to the night air, to himself. Matim realized he was totally pointless to the exercise. "We were the Four Horsemen! The world lives in fear of us!" Now his voice dropped and Kronos threatened the night, the fates…whoever he blamed for whatever haunted his dreams. "And we will ride again."

 Kronos’ final pronouncement shook Matim in his saddle. Could Kronos really believe that both Caspian and Methos were alive?

Their horses carefully picked their way down the remains of the river bank and made their way easily on the dried river bed. The cave the nomad had spoken of was just around the bend from them. Kronos reined his horse to a stop and Matim followed suit. They tethered their mounts, then continued on foot, swords drawn.

"We will ride again," Kronos muttered again and again.

The cave mouth became visible, a dark gash in the gray rock of the hillside. The thrum of another Immortal pulsed within Matim’s brain. Kronos straightened and repeated his mantra more loudly, but gripped his sword tighter. Two more steps and the sensation repeated itself. Before either of them could react to the second presence, they were frozen to their places by a scream that tore into the night and through Matim directly. It was a scream that spoke of horror, of fear…of experience. Not a scream of an unknown frights, but a scream that spoke of the certainty of what would come, and of the futility of praying for any escape.

Goose flesh visible on his arms, even in the fading light, Matim turned to Kronos, and noticed that Kronos’ flesh puckered at the sound as well.

"We. Will. Ride. Again." He spoke through gritted teeth and took off at a jog.

Sword held at the ready, Matim dashed after him, but certain to make sure he didn’t catch up to him. Whatever was in that cave, it was capable of doing great harm to a human. Matim had no desire to be the first to confront it.

As they ran forward, Matim could make out a man standing in the cave mouth—waiting with a curved blade drawn. Another two strides and Matim could make out the shock of hair and the darkness of a pattern over the man’s left eye.

Caspian.

"We will ride again!" Kronos screamed it and lunged at his brother, sword pointed directly at Caspian’s heart.

Ritavka

From later in the novel…

Joe led them back to Methos’ old room, but stopped a few feet shy of the doorway when Mac put one hand on Joe’s shoulder. With a faint smile, Mac pulled his katana out of his coat and offered it, handle first, to Joe.

"What’s this for?" Joe had to learn to stop playing into Mac’s little jokes.

He shrugged. "I want you to take it for awhile."

"And do what?" Wouldn’t he ever learn? Didn’t he realize that Mac was setting him up for something?

"Poke me with it whenever I’m about to say something stupid—say something without thinking first."

Joe felt the grin spread across his face and he shifted the katana into his right hand. His eyes gleaming playfully, Joe took an experimental poke in Duncan’s direction. "With pleasure."

"Not that much pleasure!" Mac pouted. "I mean, I don’t think you’ll have much reason to use it."

"I don’t know," Joe took another poke. "You can make some idiotic statements and Methos has been through quite a bit lately. Maybe I should just poke you whenever you start to say anything."

"Wait a minute!"

"You know, preemptive strike, as it were." Joe prodded Mac in the butt, enjoying the game immensely.

With a graceful, quick step, Mac slid around Joe and reclaimed his sword. "I think I’ve changed my mind."

"Why?" Joe widened his eyes and tried his best innocent face.

"You’re enjoying it too much. Way too much."

"I thought you once told me that it was a truly blessed man that enjoyed his work."

"Yeah, well, I also think it’s possible for a man to have too many blessings." Mac stiffened as he finished his comment.

"Looks like you just kissed Sleeping Beauty," Joe mumbled.

Mac pushed open the door, swearing under his breath, then lifted one finger in a call for silence. As quietly as possible, Joe sidled into the room, stopping as he saw what had frozen Mac in his tracks.

After opening one eye to ensure he was in no danger, Methos had settled back to sleep, seemingly unaware of the bundle on his chest. A small boy, no more than four, lay sleeping on top of Methos, his tiny arms splayed across Methos’ chest, his head cradled by one of Methos’ large hands.

"You don’t think…?" Mac finally whispered.

"Ten to one his name is Ritavka."

"I’m not taking that bet." Mac raised an eyebrow in silent question, then moved next to the bed. With a visible wince, Mac reached out and shook Methos’ shoulder. "C’mon old man. Time to head back to the main house."

"Mph?" Methos shook his head once, then opened his eyes. For a moment, the brittle glare Methos had shown the world over the past week softened as he eyes lit upon the child on his chest.

Joe could nearly see the years dissolve and imagine Methos waking three thousand years before; a warm smile crossing his lips as he realized his son had snuck into daddy’s room for his afternoon nap. Then the gaze shifted and the terror Joe had seen in those eyes days before in Cairo again darkened Methos’ gaze and etched itself onto his face.

For any questions regarding Leah Rosenthal's artwork, please e-mail her at bizarro7@aol.com. Leah takes commissions and also will make hand colored prints of her artwork.

Also 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. Click here to view ordering information, along with some excerpts of artwork and text.

Also available: The Lightning's Hand, a sequel to Then the Night Comes, and Revelations #1, an adult, Methos oriented zine.

If you are interested in submitting to any of our upcoming publications, please click here to view our submission guidelines.

We accept money orders, cash (at sender’s risk!) or credit cards and echecks (via Paypal) in payment. For further ordering and pricing information regarding any Ashton Press fanzine, please contact Ann Wortham at ashton7@aol.com.

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