You had lain there, not moving. Five thousand years had taught you how to control the silences. To one who watched you could have even looked innocent, a youthful traveller in the land of dreams. You stirred slightly, as if you were dreaming. A muffled mutter. You had it all down to a very fine art.
And what dreams might you have dreamt on this night of Richie Ryan’s death?
Of the Highlander -
Only ever the Highlander.
Scattered phrases of long dead bards insinuated themselves in and around your bed. “…I have shuddered in the darkness that is round the Earth. I have seen the black hissing black and the monsters that devour each other. I have looked into the groping, writhing adder-pit of hell…”
And so you shuddered anew for Duncan – writhing in his own adder-pit of hell. You never realised that it would be like this – that it would or could hurt this much. Or that your heart and soul, blackened and dying, would start to feel again.
Feel the Highlander -
Only ever the Highlander.
You felt a presence in the room with you and knew you were being watched. And still you didn’t stir. He wasn’t fooled. Ahriman’s rich voice permeated and overtook the retreating silences.
“Methos? Do you know why the earth wails? Because it once dreamt of beauty. Just like you, Methos. You dream of beauty,” he accused. He knew you too well. Knew where your weakness lay dormant, waiting for enticements. “Duncan MacLeod is insane. Beautifully insane.”
“I know,” you agreed, relinquishing the silences and the dreams of fragmented gladness you sometimes found in the abyss. “I know.”
Turning, you gazed at him, sitting motionless before you. And he spoke to you of another possibility – a different reality, in which Richie Ryan lived and the Highlander’s laughter and love was focused only on you, - his lover. You turned from Ahriman’s obsessed gaze and watched the enticement play out on the wall by your bed.
In this timeline, Duncan clasped Richie to him, held him fast, and sighed through tears, demanding to know if the boy was okay. The image resolved into a shocked Richie, staring wide-eyed at Duncan. “Yeah. For a second there I thought... How'd you know it was really me?”
And then it began dissolving – mirroring Duncan’s dissipating sanity: “I didn't. I didn't,” Duncan cried, refusing to let Richie out of his arms. Red celluloid streaks melted and dripped onto your bed and the floor. You turned and stared at the monster before you.
“Ahriman. What price – what price - to give the boy back to him?” you demanded, rising from the bed.
“What I’ve always wanted. You – by my side again, until the Highlander returns to fight me. If he wins, wish it, and it will be as if the boy had never died.”
And so he found your price. Not for Alexa. Not for Kronos or Byron. Not for Alexander or the hundreds of others who had touched your life.
Only the Highlander.
And you once again entered into evil and gave this god his year while Duncan struggled alone with his grief – believing himself abandoned by you. When he returned, and relegated Ahriman’s black soul once more into the abyss, you called forth the covenant you had struck with the Prince of Lies.
You whispered, again and again, into the dark-stained horrors of hell, demanding payment for your year of sinful support.
There was no answer.
Somewhere in the coiling, hissing pit that is your heart, you felt a newly scoured out fissure filling with pain. It was then that it would have been so easy to truly despair.
You reached for a book on the Celts that Duncan had once given you. You opened it slowly and read his inscribed words to you.
comes the hour foretold, a god-gift bringing
Is it a star new-born and splendid up-springing
Out of the night?
Is it a
wave from the Fountain of Beauty upflinging
Foam of delight?
Is it a glorious immortal bird that is winging
Hither its flight?”
One day, you would reach out your arm, and some god, somewhere, would steer your immortal bird safely home.
Poetry is from 'The Celtic Quest'
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