(William Ja-On Campbell Hillman)
Chapter Eleven: Macleod
Rome, three days later
It was a beautifully sunny day in the city of Rome, Italy, and alone on a lonely street corner cafe sat Phillipe Kameleo DeMagi, contently reading his book of the writings of Shakespeare. On the small table at which he sat, stood a pot of tea and a pair of small cups, which simmered and steamed quietly with the aroma of herbal mixtures. All in all, it was a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, one that comes around every hundred years or so. Until DeMagi felt a tingling at the back of his head, and realized that his guest was late. Around the corner came a tall man, his hair short and brown colored, his face written with the hardships of a long life. DeMagi shook his head and marked his place with a gold bookmark, which he pulled forth from the pocket on the inside of his jacket.
"Ah, Connor Macleod of the clan Macleod." DeMagi said as he carefully and lovingly placed his book down on the small sidewalk café’s table. He slowly and leisurely crossed his legs and leaned back slightly, being the relaxed Immortal his is. Slowly he raised his cup to his mouth, and sipping his tea, released a small smile. "Please my friend, have a seat. We have much to discuss and little time..."
"Phillipe Kameleo DeMagi, is it not?" Connor replied as he sat on the other side of the table. He shrugged the waiter off, and leaned forward with an eager look of learning in his eyes. Folding his arms on the table he asked, "Yes, you have quite a reputation. I believe you were once a student of an immortal named Montegue LeMoynne."
DeMagi poured Connor a cup of tea, and sipped his own. Finally, for the first time of the meeting, he made eye contact with his guest. Connor obviously wanted to dismiss the formalities and get straight into business. DeMagi liked that, a man who was straight forward. He let out a little sigh and uncrossed his legs, placing his elbows on the table and leaning forward, as if he were speaking of secrets best left alone.
"Yes, only we called him Monte back then. Babylonian."
"What is Babylonian?" Connor replied with perhaps a mere ounce of annoyance. He was clearly slightly bothered by this meeting, but then again, he did think the Game was over years ago. And now, he is being dragged into a situation which overshadows his previous encounter with the Kurgan.
"Monte. Born in Babylon several thousand years ago or something. He is quite old, but then again, who of us aren't?
"So why did you want to talk to me? What do you want... my head?" Connor mockingly said, raising his arms into the air as he looked around. He scanned the area checking out the decor. "Surely you could have picked a better place than this to fight?" he whispered as he leaned forward and met DeMagi's eye. "A sidewalk cafe is truly not my style "
DeMagi looked around and shrugged, avoiding the question. He loved Rome, quite a beautiful city. It was much more beautiful five hundred years ago when he lived here, but those are the sacrifices you make for progress. And then again, he was driven from this beautiful city by the Kurgan several hundred years ago. God, it felt like only days ago, his livelihood was set ablaze, the Marnin Gull Tavern. Like only yesterday he gave, yes gave the ownership of the land to his bartender... damn, what was his name...
"You've changed from when I last saw you my friend." DeMagi said as he stood up. He tossed some lira on the table and started to walk into the Promenade. DeMagi walked slowly enough that it was clear to Macleod that he was to catch up to his host. Connor slammed the cup down and grew angry.
In half curiosity and half anger, he jumped up and ran after DeMagi. Grabbing DeMagi by the shoulder and spinning him around, he forced DeMagi to stop and face him. "Waitaminute. Hold damnit!" he screamed, "When you last saw me? I don't even know you..."
"How is your woman Connor?"
"Yes, she wrote that book some years ago about swords or something. What was it now, ah... Brenda, correct?"
A look of sadness overcame Connor and DeMagi's face went sullen. A flock of pigeons flew overhead with a ironic atmosphere, and silence seemed to grip the streets. The two seemed to stand motionless for an eternity before DeMagi broke the silence.
"So she never spoke of me then?"
Connor's anger flared as he grabbed DeMagi by the jacket with his hands. He pulled DeMagi to his face, and stared into his eyes. The anger which flared and grew deep inside Connor was beginning to worry DeMagi. "Why would she speak of you, you bastard?"
"Because I spoke to her!" DeMagi yelled as he broke free of Connor's grip. He loosened up a little and straightened his suit, fanning any wrinkles out with a brush of his hands. "New York City, 1985. You just took out the Kurgan..."
New York City, 1985
"... I want to go home..."
Connor's last words echoed in Brenda's mind as she cradled his limp body in her arms. Macleod fell under a blackness of exhaustion and for the first time in centuries, slept a peaceful sleep, free of danger, free of fighting, free of the rules of the Game.
Footsteps echoed silently in the darkness as a lone figure stepped into the light and walked over to Brenda. In his hands were a set of swords, drawn and glimmering in what little light there was in the large room. Broken glass sparkled like stars on the floor, and amid the destruction, lay the beheaded body of the Kurgan. The man raised an eyebrow at the sight of the dead butcher and smiled.
"I trust your friend has taken the Kurgan..." he quietly said as he stood above her. The man was about 5'10, wearing a black trenchcoat and shortly cut brown hair, which curled with a boyish charm. His face showed lines of extreme age, and Brenda cringed merely looking at it. Despite the kind appearance, she knew that there was something ancient about this man.
"You're one of them... I thought they were the last. It was over..." she replied as she shielded her lover with her mortal body, "Get away from him! I'm tired of this Game of yours! Leave him!"
"This Game is not over... not by a long shot. But you have nothing to fear from me. In a way, I owe him. I knew the Kurgan was here, so I came. Didn't think I could really beat him... but it was now or never. He would have found me somewhere else..." the man said as he sheathed his swords, and covered them up in the flaps of his trenchcoat.
"It's not over?"
"No. You must tell him that. He must be aware that the Game is not over. New immortals are born everyday, as the old ones fall. He will not be safe. Tell him Phillipe Kameleo DeMagi sends his regards."
"What can I do? What happens now?" Brenda asked as she looked into Connor's sleeping face. The mere thought of losing him made a tear come to her eye. She couldn't lose this man, the man she loved. She was so close to losing him once, and she knew she couldn't put up with this happening again.
"Love him, if you must, just know this. No one ever knew we were among you, until now... and in the end, there can be only One." DeMagi replied as he walked into the shadows. He disappeared, but his voice whispered out one final burst of light before he was gone from her life forever. "Oh, and Brenda, I really enjoyed your book..."
Rome, Present Day
"She never mentioned you..." Connor said, "She never said the Game was not over. She just wanted to be with me forever and live a normal life. One without swordplay, and hunting, and... Immortality." Connor bowed his head, and then raised it, tears in his eyes, "She died in Scotland. A car accident. She... died on impact, and I walked away, carrying her lifeless body. I should be with her, but I'm stuck here with this curse!"
"A curse can easily be removed, but with what loss? You could lose your head, and the curse would be gone, but your soul and Quickening would belong to your murderer." DeMagi said in a comforting tone, "There is so much you can do for the world, if you just apply it. We are infused with a power we cannot fathom, cannot possibly understand. The power of the Immortals is in your mind! How do we understand something as endless as the stars in the sky, which shine with a power which is dwarfed by our own?"
"Power is in the eye of the beholder. Power can just as easily be a curse..."
"Just as a curse can be a power of great importance. In a sense, we are Brothers on the same path of Enlightenment."
"We are brothers. You sound like someone I once knew. A teacher and friend."
"Ahhh, Juan Sanchez Villa Lobos Ramiriz, your old teacher and friend. I too once trained with him." smiled DeMagi as crossed his arms. He let out a little sigh, and shook his head. In his head he still heard that overdressed Egyptian yelling at him, You, kind sir, are nothing more than a theatrical imitation of a fighter! He had always ridiculed him because of his elaborate, and perhaps too orchestrated fighting style.
"He never spoke of you." DeMagi caught his attention, and he knew it. Not many people had known he studied with Ramiriz, so why should Macleod know? He had studied with him almost five hundred years before Connor was born!
"Not one of his successes I fear." DeMagi sighed, as he remembered the good old days, when he was foolish enough to chase after the Kurgan when he was clearly not ready for such an encounter. "I believed too much in the ways of elegance and speed and neglected the power and strength of a fight. He only had me for a short time, before he departed."
"Yes, and the Kurgan took him."
"I know. I fought him shortly after..."
DeMagi struggled to move, but the Kurgan easily overpowered him. He was thrown against the trunk of a long dead tree and the rain beat down on his limp, dying body. DeMagi silently cursed himself for this blood hunt. This vengeance attack has proven to be his undoing. At the time, avenging Ramiriz seemed easy, as the anger flowed though his body, but now reality has given him a brutal awakening. The Kurgan raised DeMagi's own blade into the air and screamed his horrible death cry.
"THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!!"
The blade fell, but never contacted. DeMagi struggled to open his eyes and saw another blade crossing the Kurgan's. Surrounding the Kurgan were six villagers, carrying torches in one hand and swords in another. Rain fell on their bodies, but no one flinched from the weather. Only the Kurgan scared them.
"Get DeMagi!" screamed one villager, "We've got this brute!"
Someone grabbed DeMagi and tossed him over his shoulder. As his rescuer ran through the storm, he watched the fight as the poorly trained villagers fought to fend off the Kurgan with his centuries of combat skill.
"Insolent Worms!" screamed the Kurgan as he swung DeMagi's blade though the neck of a villager, "You'll all die for robbing me of my prize!"
"Hold him off! We have to give Karmann some time!"
"Watch it! This bastards good!"
Screams cried out in the night, and within minutes, all were dead. A total loss of life is perhaps the most honorable sacrifice. Dying so another may live. But was it all for naught? DeMagi wasn't safe... yet...
"Is a good thing we followed you, Phillipe. My friends will hold the Kurgan off long enough so I can get you to safety." shouted Karmann Dian as he ran across the muddy fields.
"Karmann Dian. You were in the tavern..." murmured DeMagi.
"Yeah, you bought us a drink or two while you told us those stories. Some brute came in looking for you, so we thought you might be in trouble!”
DeMagi struggled to look around when he saw a friendly sight. In the darkness was a beacon of light and hope and maybe his last chance at life. A small building stood in the rain, the wooden cross seemed to be calling to DeMagi.
"Karmann, take me to that church..."
"No way! He'll find us there in a heartbeat!"
"I know. Trust me. Please."
Karmann kicked open the doors to the church and screamed out,
"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I am leading a murderer to your church!"
From the back room, came a sleepy eyed priest, wearing a dark robe. He rushed over to Karmann and helped lift DeMagi off his shoulder. Carefully, they lowered the limp body of the Immortal warrior to the floor. They leaned him against the wooden pews, and dried his face off with the priest's robes.
"My God. What happened?" whispered the priest.
"Someone attacked him."
"I noticed that when I saw the sword through his body." replied the priest in a frantic voice. He quickly took off for the back room and shouted out, "I shall get some bandages, can you pull the blade out?"
"Yes Father." Karmann replied as he grabbed the hilt and pulled. DeMagi screamed and his body arched in pain, but the blade was removed. Suddenly to his surprise, his wounds healed in a discharge of electrical wonder. Karmann stared in wonder, and dropped the bloody blade to the floor, where it clanged a harsh sound of cruel steel.
"What the...?" shouted an astonished Karmann. "What manner of beast are you? How did you do that?"
"Remind me to tell you sometime." replied DeMagi as he struggled to stand.
The priest came running back to the pair, and dropped his cloth bandages he was carrying when he saw DeMagi. "Sweet Jesus. Who... what are you?" he asked in astonishment, "Has Jesus sent an angel down to my church?"
A gust of wind broke the magical moment as the Kurgan walked into the church. He was carrying DeMagi's blade and had not even a scratch on him. He sneered and walked over to the trio of men.
"Let the Revel's begin!" he screamed as he slammed the wooden doors shut.
"Sadistic Bastard!" whispered Karmann, "He enjoys this..."
"Here... for you..." laughed the Kurgan as he handed Dian something. Karmann looked at the gift and dropped it to the ground quickly, and disgusted. A pair of eyes lay on the church floor, and Karmann didn't even want to know whose they were. "Thought you would be here DeMagi. Holy Ground. The Golden Rule."
DeMagi struggled to remain standing, "How kind of you to be so concerned about my well being, Kurgan. Surely even someone as sick as you follows the rule..."
"Yes DeMagi, even I follow the rule. I merely came for my blade, and to return yours." he said as he tossed down DeMagi's blade onto the floor and grabbed his own bloody blade, the sharpened steel edges scraped against the stone floor in a sickening cry, that made the Priest shudder.
"Like I said Kurgan, I appreciate your concern."
"Ha ha!! DeMagi, you are truly a good sport! We shall meet again! And next time, I will kill you!" laughed the Kurgan as he turned to Karmann, "All the King's horses and all the King's men! Your friends are in a better place, gone to Hell did I send!"
Karmann's face went grim and he spit in the Kurgan's face. He clearly did not approve of the man's poetic tastes. "Bastard, we'll meet again!"
The Kurgan grabbed Karmann by the throat and lifted him into the air, "I can't kill DeMagi here, but I can kill you!" He threw Karmann across the room and he landed in a crumpled heap, gasping for air. As he walked out of the church, he came to a painting of Jesus Christ. He stopped, looked at the artwork and licked His lips. "I like this Jesus Christ. So powerful, so forgiving, and so very Dead."
The priest stepped forward in anger, "Blasphemer! He died for our sins!"
He stopped at the door and slowly turned around. He pointed his blade at the painting and ran the blade down the centre of the face, cutting it like ribbon. "A pity he is still dead, I always did enjoy a challenge.”
Rome, Present Day
"I truly do owe you one Connor, for killing that butcher. I fought him three times, and barely escaped with my life those times." DeMagi said.
"Yes, but you didn't call for me to talk about old times..."
"No I didn't." DeMagi hesitated for a second, wondering how to phrase his next question, "Have you heard of Joshua Morlock, the Unbreakable?"
"Yes. One of the Five. A group of five immortals thought to be the original five from the beginning of time. He is also the last of the Five. The others were killed by various immortals. Kurgan killed one, Kreitos took another, Ramiriz another, and the last fell to Joshua. He was one of the most powerful Immortal, even the Kurgan was pale to Morlock. Until he fell to Monte."
"Correct. Except for one thing..."
"Joshua Morlock the Unbreakable, The Soul Stealer, The Hermit, is alive again..."
"Well this makes my entire existence a little more exciting, now doesn't it. Oh, and to top it off, I guess the Gathering is approaching as well! I thought it was all over long ago..."
"None of us are that lucky my friend, but maybe we shall end it soon."
"I truly don’t want to kill anymore, Kameleo."
"If you do not, then we will all die, and Earth will be in eternal darkness." DeMagi said, his voice becoming dark and morbid, and his hand curled up in a ball. "This bastard has the power and the will to enslave the world for all time under his dark reign. I don't have ability or strength to take this monster. You took the Kurgan and saved us once... can you kill again?"
"Not unless I have to..."
DeMagi shook his head slowly and looked at Connor, "He will come for you. You will be one of the first he seeks out. Damn! How do you keep your sanity? Inside of you is the Quickenings of two of the Five."
Macleod turned and slowly began to walk away. "I realize that, but trust me Kameleo.... if it comes down to it, I will take him out."
"Thank you Connor... you're the only one who can do it... the only one strong enough to..." DeMagi said as he turned around and began to walk away. He started to wonder what was going to happen. Morlock was clearly far beyond his capabilities, he knew that much. Connor could take the madman out, maybe. Monte could take him out, just like he did before, but he'd be damned if he was going to let Monte get any more powerful! That man was more than enough trouble right now...
Connor stopped and turned around. "You'll not find her Kameleo. She doesn't want to be found..."
Kameleo turned around in shock from what he had said. He simply couldn't believe what he was hearing. He searched for the Highlander, but he couldn't be found. He had disappeared completely! "Connor! Where are you, dammit? How do you know about Gaelynne? Highlander!"
Macleod's voice spoke up again, but DeMagi couldn't pinpoint the voice. He couldn't see him, but he could feel the Quickening. He was around, but the streets were eeringly empty, and there was no where to go. He had quite simply... vanished... "When she wants to find you, she'll find you..."
"Damnit! Why does everyone know more than me..."
...to be continued in Chapter 12...
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