Ouroboros, by AC

 

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Richie, MacLeod, Methos, Joe and assorted bit players belong to DPP. The rest are mine. This story draws heavily from my other stories -- I suggest you read "Gilgamesh Redeemed" before this, if possible. As I always say, "Archangel" didn't happen in my fanfic universe... or did it? Some dialogue is taken from "The Messenger," "The End of Innocence," and "Archangel." Thanks to my beta readers Phoenix, Joanne, Laura, Terry, Silvia, and Ann. Special thanks to my dearest friend Phoenix, with whom I share my obsession for esoterica. She kept this from getting too weird (I hope). Brought to you by Black Sabbath, Queensryche, Dream Theater, and Motorhead (if it's too loud, you're too old), and dedicated to my sisters and brothers in Clan Denial (we're obsessed, not stupid!) and anyone else who detested the AAA arc -- this was a labor of love. I can't believe it's been almost five years since I wrote this story.
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Prologue: The Lamb

“If any man thinks he has killed, and another thinks he is slain, neither knows the ways of truth. The Eternal in man cannot kill: the Eternal in man cannot die.”
-- Bhagavadgita 2:18-19

The eerie silence in the racetrack was suddenly broken by the reverberation of a gunshot. Richie Ryan glanced around, his sword drawn.

“Joe?” No answer.

<<Dammit! Where’s Joe? That bastard better not have hurt him!>> Then he felt it - the silent call signaling the presence of another Immortal. <<Mac?>>

Richie walked cautiously towards the source of the gunshot.... and the buzz.

Suddenly he heard a voice in his head which was not his... a voice he hadn’t heard in months....

“Sometimes the best peacemakers are those who are most experienced at war.”

Richie stopped in his tracks. <<What the..... why am I remembering that false Methos guy? Now of all times? Is the demon fucking with MY mind now?>> He moved towards the buzz; but the voices in his head continued.

“My faith is my defense.”

<<Some defense - Culbraith mowed you down no questions asked!>>

The next words the voice spoke weren’t memories...

“Richie -- he needs your strength.... he can’t do it alone.... he doesn’t understand... he thinks he can fight this thing with a sword... and there isn’t time to make him understand... unless you’re with him, he’ll lose... the battle will be lost.”

Richie blinked and wiped his eyes, trying to clear his mind of the cobwebs... but he couldn’t fight the feeling of dread, dread mixed with a strange, surrealistic calm.

As if it had all been foretold... and he was powerless to change fate.

“Richie, don’t believe because of my strength -- believe because of your own.”

Richie smiled slightly and knew what he had to do.... he didn’t understand why, but he knew it had to be... for Mac’s sake... for his own sake...

For goodness sake.

So Richie Ryan lowered his sword and walked around the corner into the escalator foyer and stood there, like a statue, waiting for his friend and mentor to take his head.

MacLeod didn’t disappoint him...

The Quickening tore through MacLeod’s soul like a tornado, clearing the Demon’s visions from his mind. In that first terrible minute of clarity, MacLeod realized what he had done... he felt Richie’s spirit pass through him like a forest fire, revealing memories and emotions which burned into his brain... and wrenched his heart from his chest... Richie’s horrible screams echoed through his head.....

Forty miles outside Paris, an ancient Immortal awoke from a dream screaming.

He mouthed a single word.

“Richie.”

He got up and walked into the bathroom, turned on the light and looked at his face in the mirror -- and saw eyes the color of the noon sky staring back at him. The Immortal rubbed his eyes and looked back into the mirror -- his eyes were once again the color of midnight.

He sighed with a weight revealing the extent of his years.

“It has begun.”

Part 1: Joe’s Story

“They will have on earth neither peace nor forgiveness of sin, for they will not rejoice in their sons. The slaughter of their beloved ones they will see, and over the destruction of their sons they will lament and petition forever. But they will have neither mercy or peace.”
-- “Enoch 1 : The Book of the Watchers”, Chap. 12.

Joe sat in the overstuffed easy chair nursing a large glass filled with Scotch. It had been almost 24 hours since.... since.....

He sighed and a large tear rolled down his face. He wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his tweed jacket then took a large gulp of
his drink. But the pain would not diminish.... would it EVER diminish? He’d seen plenty of Immortals killed over the decades
he’d been with the Watchers, good Immortals, bad Immortals. It had almost gotten to be old hat. But never had the death of an
Immortal affected him so deeply.... but then, he’d never lost an Immortal he loved before.

And he loved Richie.... as a sweet nephew, or godson.... a rebellious kid with a heart of gold, whose mortal life had been
snuffed out all too soon.... and ironically his Immortal life had been even briefer.

Cut down by the person who loved him more than anyone -- his teacher, the closest thing to family he had .... Joe’s best friend.

Joe took another drink. <<What hell Mac must be in right now! Wherever he is!>>

No one had seen MacLeod since he left the racetrack. Joe had all the airports, docks and bus depots covered... but no sign of
his friend. <<Maybe he’s still in town.... Dammit! Where are you MacLeod! You shouldn’t be alone at a time like this! None ofus should be.>>

But Joe was alone... utterly alone. Methos had taken off as well, muttering something about needing space to think... promising
that he’d only be gone a few hours. <<Yeah, right.... more like a few centuries I bet. Thanks a lot, friend!>>

Joe rubbed his forehead and took another swig of Scotch -- he looked at the glass with half-hearted interest. <<Well, looks likeit’s just you and me, Mr. Walker! I know you won’t let me down. Hmmmff... and it’s not like I have anything else pressing Ineed to do.>>

Joe stared blankly out the window of his hotel room. <<You can’t very well have a funeral without a body, now, can you?>>

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Joe wept unashamedly on Methos’ shoulder after the heartbroken Highlander had departed with Richie’s glove, sobbing a
Native American chant as he left the grisly scene. Joe’s tears were for Richie... and MacLeod... and for himself.

For innocence lost.... for a friend so cruelly taken from him.... and for the possibly irreversible madness the Scot had seemingly
fallen into.

Joe had felt faint and faltered slightly.... but Methos had caught Joe before he fell.

Joe caught a glimpse of Methos’ eyes -- Joe couldn’t tell what was behind them. But somehow he’d expected more emotion
from Methos.... after all, hadn’t Richie saved Methos from his own madness only a few weeks before?

From the haunting memories of killing his own student.

The irony of it all wasn’t lost on Joe Dawson. “Methos..... how’s MacLeod ever going to forgive himself?”

Methos swallowed hard. “I don’t know Joe..... it took me 2300 years, and Richie’s help before I forgave myself. I don’t know
what’s going to happen to Mac. I can’t think about that now.”

Joe wiped away his tears and in a shaky voice he answered. “We have to take care of Richie.”

Methos nodded slightly. “I’ll carry him to the car. Why don’t you go ahead, Joe and open up the back.”

Joe solemnly turned to walk away, his shoulders hung low and his steps slow. Methos noted that his mortal friend looked like
he’d aged 10 years in 10 minutes.

Joe muttered as he walked away. “Of course Mac will want to bury him next to Tessa -- that’s what Richie’d have wanted.”

Methos looked down at Richie’s lifeless blue eyes one last time and a tear ran down the Ancient Immortal’s cheek as he
remembered a verse from the Bhagavadgita:

<< Thy tears are for those beyond tears; and are thy words words of wisdom? The wise grieve not for those who live; and theygrieve not for those who die -- for life and death shall pass away. Because we all have been for all time: I, and thou, and those kings of men. And we all shall be for all time, We all for ever and ever.>>

Suddenly a gunshot rang out nearby.

Methos ran towards the direction Joe had headed. “Joe!!!! Are you all right?”

Joe was only 40 yards ahead of him and perfectly fine, albeit startled. “Methos -- what the hell’s going on! Why aren’t you
carrying Richie?”

Methos looked at him in disbelief. “Joe -- didn’t you hear the gunshot?”

Joe returned the puzzled look. “What are you talking about? Don’t tell me you’re wigging out on me too! I can’t handle two
friends going insane on me in one week!”

Methos had a sudden overwhelming feeling of panic.... he ran back to Richie’s body...

It was gone.

“Damn!”

He looked around but Richie, and whatever evil had spirited him away, were both long gone. He sighed and picked up both
swords and headed back to tell Joe the bad news....

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Joe closed his eyes and swallowed the last of his Scotch. <<Damn MacLeod! Damn him! Why did he and Richie come back
here? Why couldn’t they have just stayed in Seacouver?>>

Joe shook his head. <<Because MacLeod always has to do things HIS way. Will he EVER learn his lesson? Will he ever learn
to ask for help?>>

MacLeod had received a phone call from the barge caretaker telling him that vandals had broken into the boat and caused a
large amount of damage... they’d apparently stolen everything they thought was valuable and left the remainders in shambles.

MacLeod was not pleased. Although the caretaker offered to take care of it, the Highlander took the first plane back to Paris toassess the damage himself and see how badly it needed repairing. Richie went along because.... well, when did Richie ever needa reason to do anything? Richie had been bugging MacLeod to take him to the Highlands, to see Mac’s old “stomping
grounds.” So Richie convinced Mac this was a perfect opportunity -- he’d help with the barge repairs and then they could go toScotland for some r&r. It sounded perfect.

<<The best laid plans of mice and men...>>

Methos had gotten bored with Seacouver again after only a few weeks and had headed back to Paris just a few days ahead of
Mac and Richie.

And Joe? Joe had gotten a phone call from his niece asking him to retrieve her father’s body from Paris and have it brought
back to the States, to Chicago, so that she could visit his grave on a regular basis.

It sounded so simple. So innocent. But it had played right into the Demon’s plan to drive the Highlander insane.

It had worked so perfectly...... and now Richie was dead, Methos was somewhere contemplating his navel, and Joe was more
alone than he’d ever been in his life.

Divide and conquer.

Part 2: The Elders’ Story

“When you take a life and steal its shadow, all that’s left is humanity.”
-- ”Dying for Love,” Black Sabbath

Enkidu sat in a hardback chair looking out his window at the moon. He closed his ancient eyes and thought back a month to a
transatlantic plane ride he’d taken with Richie Ryan. They were returning to France to help Methos cope with his amnesia.... an
amnesia brought upon by the horrible realization that he’d caused the death of a beloved student two millennia previously.

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Enkidu glanced over at the young Immortal sitting next to him, glancing out the window. “Child, do you believe in God?”

Richie turned to look at Enkidu. “You mean the old guy with the beard and the harps and stuff?”

Enkidu smiled. “No Child, I mean a Supreme Deity, Lord of the Universe.”

Richie looked at the seat in front of him for a moment and scrunched up his face. “I don’t know, Enkidu. I mean, I didn’t go to
church much when I was a kid. I guess it’s kinda hard to think about God watching out for you when you’ve seen a lot of bad
shit go down in your life. When you’ve seen good people die for no reason. Where’s the justice in that? Why would God allow
that?”

Enkidu nodded. “You wonder why God allows evil to exist in the universe?”

Richie’s blue eyes met his jet black orbs. “Yeah, I mean, why would He allow that to happen if He was all powerful? If He
knows everything, sees everything, controls everything?”

Enkidu had grappled with the question for more millennia than Richie had seen decades. “Because it is all about balance, Child.
What is night without day? Yin without Yang? How do you know what is good unless you know what is *not* good?”

Richie furrowed up his brow as Enkidu continued. “It is like the physicists tell us -- energy and matter are converted into each
other by nature, but the sum total is conserved. So it is with good and evil. Both must exist, but there is a balance to be struck
between them. Good men are sometimes swayed to evil deeds, and sometimes those who do evil can be redeemed. A true
resolution of the conflict must await the end of Time, Child. If Time has an ending.”

Richie wasn’t sure he understood but looked out the window again anyway.

Enkidu settled back into his chair. <<You will understand soon enough, Child.>>

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Enkidu sighed and unconsciously began wringing his hands, as if to remove blood from them.

For he knew what had happened in Paris..... he’d known it was going to happen..... and he did nothing to stop it.

How could he? It had been foretold.

Enkidu remembered the words a now-dead friend had spoken some 5 months previously.

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“It’s coming again.... I can feel it, Enkidu. I feel evil tipping the balance once again.”

Enkidu looked at his normally peaceful friend and saw the weight of the world on his shoulders. “Are you sure, my friend?”

The younger Immortal sighed heavily and furrowed his already lined brow. “Yes, there’s no doubt. The signs are all around us.
I’ve got so much to do.... and not much time left.”

Enkidu nodded solemnly. “Are you ready to face him? Have you found the One you seek?”

His friend grabbed the former teacher by the shoulders. “It is not I who will face him, Enkidu. I sense my time is drawing short.
No, that task will fall to another -- I am not the Champion, I never was. I am merely the prophet ranting in the wilderness,
converting a few souls here and there.”

The pupil paused for a moment. “And I have not yet found the One. I have turned many Immortals to the cause, but none are
He whom I seek. I pray I find him in time... I have much to teach him before the battle. For the One will be very important to
the Champion.”

Enkidu nodded. “Methos has told me of a friend, Duncan MacLeod, whom he believes is the best among our kind. But then
he has never met you.”

His friend chuckled slightly. “You flatter me, Elder. I too have heard of the Highlander. I believe he may be the Champion... thatwould be pleasing to me. But unless he finds the One he will not be able to win the battle.”

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That was the last time Enkidu saw his friend alive. He was killed a few weeks later during his search. But the day he died he
sent a message to his former teacher. Three words - “I’ve found him.”

Enkidu was gladdened at the news, then stunned to hear of his friend’s death...... he died before divulging the identity of the
One..... and presumably before instructing him in the ways to combat the Demon.

Luckily Enkidu had found him himself. And although he hadn’t given the young Immortal any formal training, Enkidu believed hissoul was ready .... and he’d been right.

That didn’t make it any easier.

He’d grown quite fond of Richie Ryan -- it was a shame he had to die.

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Methos drove towards the monastery and his oldest and wisest friend as fast as he could, trying to arrive before he could
control his emotions no more.

He was losing the battle.

Methos pictured MacLeod standing above Richie’s broken body....... felt Joe sobbing on his shoulder...... heard the gunshot
which was not real, the distraction which led to the disappearance of Richie’s body.

His mind was swimming in a sea of hate and anger and sorrow and utter despair. He’d felt too much pain in the past year.
MacLeod’s dark Quickening.......Alexa wasting away........ Kronos and Silas and Caspian...... Cassandra........ the memories ofArion ...... and Richie.

The tears were starting to come. He brusquely wiped his face with the sleeve of his jacket and pushed the Volvo faster. His
mind was beginning to fill with memories..... he sharply took in a breath and fought the images, yelling “NO!” to no one in
particular....

Mercifully he felt Enkidu’s buzz as soon as he entered the church driveway. As if his old friend was expecting him.

Methos threw the car into park, turned off the ignition and jumped out of the car like a man possessed. He ran through the iron
gate past the roses and towards the main door of the Dormitory. He was met halfway by his old friend, who quickly enveloped
Methos in a much needed hug just as the oldest Immortal completely lost it.....

An hour later the two old friends were sharing hot tea in front of a fire in the living room.

“You KNEW all this time that Richie was going to die? And you didn’t tell me? How could you!” Methos accused.

Enkidu looked down at his beverage. “What would you have done if I had told you what I know, Methos? I did not know when or where it would happen. I could not even be sure I had the right Immortal.”

Methos stood up and glowered over the shorter man. “I would have stopped MacLeod -- I would have kept Richie away fromhim! Do you have any idea what this has done to MacLeod? Do you? *I* do! I’ve been there! Believe me, you don’t want toknow. God, I never thought I’d have to endure this twice!”

Enkidu looked up at his friend’s pained face. <<I understand your pain, my friend. And I *know* why the pain is doubly great.
I know. I am truly sorry.>> “You must be strong, my friend. The battle is still ahead of us. Come, we must gather together your
friends. I must tell them all I know..... MacLeod must be made to understand.”

“Understand WHAT?” Methos yelled “That he’s been proclaimed a Champion? That he had to kill his student, his *son* in
order to fulfill some demented prediction made by an esoterically-obsessed Immortal? How the hell is he going to be made to
understand that?”

Enkidu stood and faced his angry friend.

“You have already lost one friend today, Methos. Unless we find MacLeod and make him understand, you will lose him, too. Are you willing to risk that?”

Part 3: MacLeod’s Story

“When the hand that rocks the cradle, is the hand that holds the knife,
When the knife that cuts the cable, kills the spark that feeds the life.
No grave could be deep enough, down to hell if we were able.
The veil of life was pushed aside, by the hand that rocks the cradle.”
-- “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” Black Sabbath

Step step step.

Duncan MacLeod took step after futile step. He had no destination, no future, no hope. No life.

He’d been walking for hours. Too many hours. Not enough hours.

He couldn’t get the image out of his mind.

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Richie....... cleaved in two like a discarded rag doll....... crumpled on the floor of the racetrack.

So still...... so quiet.....

MacLeod had looked down at the body after the Quickening and couldn’t believe what he saw... what he’d just felt....

He heard something move behind him.

“Richie?”

More a desperate appeal to God than a question. But it wasn’t Richie... it was the Demon... tormenting him one last time by
appearing as Richie.

But the red eyes and damning sneer gave him away.

And Duncan MacLeod had to face the awful truth.

He’d just *murdered* the one person he held most dear in the entire world.

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MacLeod crumpled onto a park bench, initially oblivious to the teenagers playing hacky sack nearby and the awful music blaringfrom their boom box. The Immortal buried his head in his hands and tried to cry....

But no tears would flow -- he was too dehydrated from his hours of walking and weeping.

Suddenly he became aware of the teenagers’ music.

“Murder I am, you know it was me.
I was the one that you didn’t see.
I was the cut, down to your bone.
I put you there under that stone.

I... I am the blade. I am the dream of the brave.
I... I am the knife. I bring grief to your wife.
I... I am the sword. I am the word of the Lord.

Do what you will, I bring you the edge.
I am the one to sever your head.”

The words ripped through MacLeod like he wished his katana had done to his neck. He’d offered his sword to Methos... he’d
wanted Methos to end the torment, the dishonor.

The awful, gut wrenching pain that burned in every fiber of his being. The unbearable, never ending pain.

The music caught his attention again.

“The oath you take is sacred, to save not steal a life,
Like the ending of the sweetest soul, that looked through human eyes.
No grave could be deep enough, down to hell if we were able.
The veil of life was pushed aside, by the hand that rocks the cradle.”

MacLeod’s mind became flooded with images of his young friend. Richie, green jacket and bandanna, standing in the antique
shop, awkwardly holding a sword after he’d been caught by MacLeod breaking in ...... Tessa yelling at Richie for breaking an
expensive Lalique swan after she’d warned him to be careful.... Richie lying dead in the street next to Tessa’s still warm corpse,
then awakening to his new life as an Immortal.....

MacLeod began to sob uncontrollably as the pictures kept coming....

The new Immortal standing frozen in front of Annie Devlin, unable yet and unwilling to kill another human being..... the confused
student he’d turned away after he’d taken his first head.... the grungy, exhausted and scared friend Hyde had chased straight to
the barge.... the dirty, sheet--shrouded figure who’d escaped from the morgue after “dying” in front of a live audience....

The pain snowballed inside him like a runaway freight train.

The man, no longer a boy, who’d taken responsibility for Mikey...... who asked “where was the justice?” when he found mercy
for Tessa’s killer...... the friend Kristin had almost killed......

The friend HE’D almost killed.

Not once, but twice before.

The bitter, angry, hardened peer who confronted him in that alley and pronounced “next time you pull a sword on me it won’t
be so easy!”

But it had been......... painfully easy.

And at the same time the hardest thing he’d ever done.

His mind continued to be haunted by the background music playing in the park.

“I look at the world and see no understanding
I’m waiting to find some sense of strength
I’m begging you from the bottom of my heart
to show me understanding.”

<<Why Rich? WHY WHY WHY? Why did you just stand there? WHY?>>

MacLeod looked up at the starry sky, searching for an answer, to a question that he knew had no rational explanation.

He knew Richie would never have stood there like a statue with his sword lowered and be beheaded, not even by him.

Especially not by him.

It made no sense. Living made no sense.

MacLeod didn’t care about Zoroastrian demons or prophecies or Millennial battles....

He didn’t care about anything at all...... not any more.

“I need to love life
Like some people never will
So find me kindness
Find me beauty
Find me truth
When temptation brings me to my knees
And I lay here drained of strength
Show me kindness
Show me beauty
Show me truth.”

The Highlander let his leaden head fall to his chest again and breathed a heavy sigh.

<<I’m sick of.... of it ALL! The Game, of losing the ones I love.... the guilt.... the pain.... Maybe I’ll just walk around Paris until
another Immortal takes my head -- that shouldn’t take long.>>

But he’d been walking for 24 hours and he hadn’t felt another Immortal’s presence.

<<Maybe they all know about me..... I’m a leper, an outcast.... I have no honor..... I killed my student........ my friend....... my
son.>>

MacLeod felt the urge to vomit... but he hadn’t eaten anything in two days so he knew the act was futile.

What he really wanted to do was vomit Richie’s Quickening from his soul....

The Scot was becoming desperate. He looked around the park and saw an old jungle gym. He walked over and saw a sign.

<< Danger -- stay off!! sharp edges!>>

The 20 foot high playscape was in the midst of repairs, and there were razor sharp exposed edges on some of the upper
horizontal support beams.

Duncan smiled. If he did it just right, he could fall from the top and land on one of those beams and maybe, just maybe, end the
suffering right here and now.

It was worth a shot.

MacLeod slowly climbed up the structure, his heart feeling strangely lighter with every foot he rose off the ground. When he
reached the top, he looked down at the welcoming metal and prepared to jump....

when he heard a voice in his head...

<<Mac! Mac!>>

“Richie?” the confused Scot called out to the thin air.

<<Mac! Don’t do it!>>

“I have to, Rich, don’t you see, I can’t live with it.... I can’t live with the pain.....”

<<Mac..... it’s OK Mac..... don’t worry.... I know what happened..... you can’t blame yourself.... please, Mac..... don’t do
this..... you have to live!>>

“WHY?” MacLeod screamed, so loudly that the teenagers looked over at him with concerned faces. “WHY must *I* live?”

<<Because, Mac..... you’re the Champion..... you have to fight the demon. But don’t worry Mac... I’ll be right there with
you.>>

The Scot felt something inside of himself, almost like the feeling he’d heard pregnant women describe when their unborn child
moves for the first time. What they called the time of Quickening.

There was something about this strange feeling that gave him comfort. His suicidal drive began evaporating away, and he slowly
climbed down off the metal structure. He had a purpose now.... he’d send that Demon straight to whatever Hell it crawled out
of. He would not rest until Richie’s death had some meaning....

“The way your heart sounds makes all the difference
It’s what decides if you’ll endure the pain that we all feel
The way your heartbeats makes all the difference
In learning to live
Here before me is my soul
I’m learning to live
I won’t give up
Till I’ve no more to give.”

The teenagers shut off their boombox and headed home.

MacLeod slowly walked back towards the bench when he felt the buzzes of two nearby Immortals. He turned around and saw
two very old and relieved faces staring at him.

“Oh, MacLeod, thank the gods we've found you! We’ve been looking for hours!” Methos exclaimed.

“You’ve found me. Now what?” the tired Scot replied.

The other Ancient Immortal beckoned him.

“Come, Highlander. We have much to discuss. We need to talk about what you are facing. How you are to overcome this evil.”

Part 4: Prophecy Revisited

“Fear prophets . . . and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.”
-- Umberto Eco, “The Name of the Rose.”

The three Immortals and their Watcher friend sat in the barge after midnight, trying to make sense of the events of the last few
days.

MacLeod couldn’t get past the pain of killing Richie, no matter what anyone said. He was sullen, and withdrawn, and every fewminutes he would stand up and pace frantically around the interior of the boat like a caged animal.

Joe and Methos sensed the despair within their friend, but did not know how to ameliorate it... as if anything they could say or
do would relieve the Scot of his terrible pain and guilt.

Enkidu tried to direct the others into concentrating on the task at hand. “Duncan, you said that Cassandra had told you of a
great prophecy... that you were the fulfillment of that prophecy. “

MacLeod nodded weakly. “That’s right.”

“Do you remember what she said to you?” Enkidu eagerly asked.

MacLeod sighed and closed his eyes as he recounted her words. “An evil one will come, to vanquish all before him. Only a
Highland child, born on the winter solstice, who’s seen both darkness and light, can stop him. A child, and a man.”

Enkidu chuckled. “It is amazing how something as important as a prophecy can be mangled by continual mistranslations over the millennia.”

“You mean she got the prophecy WRONG?!” Joe asked in disbelief. “So Mac’s NOT the Chosen One?”

Enkidu shook his head. “Joe-- it is not that simple. She relayed what she had been told. Who knows exactly where along the
line the wording had been changed... which translation did the deed. All I know is what I read on a 6000 year old Sumerian
cuneiform tablet, which I assume is as close to the original as anyone is ever going to find. And no, it does NOT refute
MacLeod’s role as the Champion.... the prophecy is not concerned with the Champion directly -- it refers to the weapon of the
Champion... the one who will aid him in his fight... the Arrow if you will.”

Methos wrinkled up his nose. “Why do I have a sinking feeling that you’re about to embark on another one of your tediously
boring professorial lectures on Esoterica 101?”

Enkidu smiled at his oldest friend. “You know me better than I know myself, Old One. But I am afraid you have no choice.... the prophecy in its original form will be of no use to you unless I explain it fully. So, as they say, ‘Deal with it!’ “

MacLeod walked over to the couch and sat down, waiting to hear what new revelations were about to be thrust upon him, not
sure whether he was dreading or eagerly anticipating the result.

Enkidu stood in the center of the room and recited the prophecy in its ancient form.

"A great evil will rise before man,
Only a child born of the sacred mountain,
Under the sign of the Archer
Born in the balance of darkness and light,
Who has lived with both.
A child but yet a man
Shall be the instrument of his demise
and restore the balance."

Methos shrugged his shoulders. “Leave it to Cassandra to botch that one up royally. I don’t think that description fits you so
obviously, Mac.”

“It is not supposed to.” Enkidu reminded him.

“But what does it mean, Enkidu?” MacLeod asked “Born of the sacred mountain? Which sacred mountain? And what’s this
about the sign of the Archer? Balance of light and dark? What the hell is that all supposed to mean?”

“Actually the Sign of the Archer part fits you well, Highlander.” Enkidu remarked. “But let me explain. If I asked you ‘What is
your sign?’, what would you reply?”

MacLeod was confused with the introduction of astrology into the discussion. “I suppose I would say I’m a Sagittarius.”

“And what is that the sign of?” Enkidu asked with a smirk.

“The Archer.” MacLeod replied with a sudden realization.

Enkidu nodded. “And do you know the meaning behind this? What defines a ‘sign’?”

MacLeod and the others gave Enkidu a blank stare.

“I thought not. The Babylonians introduced the concept of mundane astrology -- the attempt to connect the motions of the
heavenly bodies to important events such as wars and famines. The position of the sun relative to the stars was measured by the
heliacal rising of the stars -- by noting which stars rose just before the sun, one could estimate which constellation the sun was
occupying at a given time. We still hold onto a vestigial component of this practice in the saying ‘the Dog Days of Summer’ --
the ancient Egyptians noted that Sothis, now called Sirius the Dog Star, the brightest star in the sky, rose just before the sun
heralding the annual flooding of the Nile. It was later thought that the combined heat from the Sun and this bright star made the
summer weather unusually hot.”

Methos drolly sniped “So this might help MacLeod if he were ever to appear on ‘Jeopardy’ -- but what the hell does this have
to do with the prophecy?”

Enkidu shot his friend an annoyed look and continued his tale. “The sign of the Archer is among the most ancient of all the
constellations. Almost all cultures saw it as such (a rarity for star patterns), and the oldest descriptions date back over 4500
years to Akkadian cuneiform inscriptions calling it Nergal, the God of War. “

Enkidu paused for dramatic effect. “But the sun has not always visited The Archer in the Winter.”

Methos suddenly looked interested. “You mean the wandering of the stars which affects the Pole Star also affects the sun’s paththrough the sky over the millennia?”

Enkidu smiled. “I finally have your attention, do I not? Yes, Friend, the same 26,000 year cycle which moves the Pole also
moves the seasons relative to the stars -- Precession of the Equinoxes, as the moderns call it.”

MacLeod leaned towards Enkidu with interest. “So 6000 years ago, when the tablet was inscribed...... what season was it
describing?”

Enkidu leaned back and crossed his arms in satisfaction. “The Autumnal Equinox... the time of equal day and night.. the time of
balance of light and dark.”

Joe laughed and shook his head. “Born in the balance of darkness and light. Damn. Who’d have thought...”

MacLeod turned to Joe in puzzlement. “What, Joe?”

Joe looked at his friend. “Don’t you see, Mac.... the first day of Fall..... late September”

“Approximately September 20-23 to be exact.” Enkidu added.

MacLeod’s eyes grew bright then tears formed in each... “Richie.” He suddenly remembered when Richie confronted him
outside the run-down rooming house after returning to town.

***************************************************************************
“You know, I used to stay up at night wondering, thinking, that there must be some special thing I’m supposed to do with my life because I’m Immortal.”

***************************************************************************

How ironic!

Methos furrowed his brow and interrupted the conversation. “Now wait a minute.... Richie was born at the Autumnal Equinox?
You’re saying HE’S the one the prophecy spoke of?”

Joe nodded strongly. “Yeah, don’t you see, he was born on September 20.... at the Equinox.... shit, he’s seen more than his
share of light and dark! Just look at his life! Damn... it’s so obvious... a child but yet a man!”

Methos furrowed his brow again and pursed his lips, staring at the ceiling for a moment. He looked over at Enkidu. “I
remember something I learned in Tibet. According to esoteric astrology, Sagittarius is considered a sign of balance and no
extremes.”

Enkidu nodded and smiled slightly. “Do you not know that ancient wisdom from around the world has common roots and
therefore has preserved within it the kernel of original truth? All it takes is for someone to piece it all together without prejudice.
Then the answer becomes clear.”

MacLeod looked down at his hands, his eternally bloodstained hands. “But what about the rest of it? What about the sacred
mountain part?”

Joe gave MacLeod a sheepish grin. “I guess I should have told you what the Watchers learned about Richie’s birth. Seems he
was found abandoned by some hikers when he was less than a day old... up in the mountains outside of Seacouver.... on MountOlympus. ”

Methos’ jaw nearly hit the floor at this. “There’s a Mount Olympus outside of Seacouver? Oh this is just too funny. A mountain
that just happens to be named after the home of the gods?”

“I tell you, Methos, it’s true! I never thought of that before... guess I just accepted it as another Immortal foundling story.” Joe
replied.

MacLeod interrupted their excited conversation with a voice heavy with pain. “There’s just one problem -- Richie’s dead. I
killed him. Or have you all forgotten that?”

Part 5: Osiris

“As surely as Osiris lives, so shall he live also; as surely as Osiris did not die, so shall he not die; as surely as Osiris is not annihilated, so shall he too not be annihilated.”
-- Egyptian Pyramid Text

Enkidu looked over at the tormented Scot. “But he is mostly dead..... not necessarily permanently dead.”

The trio of friends whipped their heads in unison towards the Akkadian Immortal.

“What are you talking about?” MacLeod demanded.

“Have you ever read the ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’, or ‘The Book of the Great Awakening’ as it is more properly
known? The story of the god Osiris’ return from the Dead?” the elder Immortal asked.

MacLeod shook his head.

“Pity. It is a pivotal work in the history of civilization. Although the work as a whole dates back over 5000 years, to the reign of
Unas, it is thought that the original ideas date back even a millennium earlier.”

Enkidu walked over to his backpack and pulled out a small leather-bound book which looked several centuries old. “There are
other Egyptian works which speak of the resurrection of the dead as well as the Great Book. The Westcar papyrus tells the
record of Heru-ta-ta-f, the son of the great King Khufu or Cheops, the second king of the 4th dynasty, who reigned circa 3733
BC. It is written that Heru-ta-ta-f met a 110 year old man who it was rumored could restore the head to a decapitated body.
Khufu ordered the man brought to the palace to demonstrate his skills on a prisoner. The story says that a goose was used
instead -- the head was placed on one side of the room and the body on the other. As the stranger uttered certain secret words
the body began to walk towards the head and they rejoined themselves. The goose felt good enough to cackle when it was all
over.”

Methos snickered. “Great, stories of parlor tricks with dead water fowl. Is this what you meant by pivotal ancient knowledge,
Enkidu? I think you’ve been spending too much time inhaling dust from old books. It’s affecting your brain!”

Enkidu turned and looked at his sarcastic friend with a smug face. “Yes, I suppose you WOULD NOT be impressed with
reattaching the head of a goose. But what if I told you I have proof that Tetteta could restore a dead Immortal?”

Methos stopped laughing and stared at his old friend. Mac looked over with eyes beginning to show a spark of life once again.

And Joe, the ever pragmatic, was the one who spoke. “OK, I’ll bite.... what kinda proof are we talkin’ here?”

Enkidu focused his black orbs onto Joe’s inquiring eyes. “Eyewitness testimony, Watcher. I was *there* -- I *saw* it happen.”

Joe’s mouth dropped open. “Are you *sure*? It wasn’t a trick? An illusion?”

Methos began to come around to Enkidu’s side. “How the hell would you fake a decapitated body? Especially in Ancient
Egypt. My God, Enkidu, how come you never *told* me!”

His ancient friend shrugged slightly. “Would you have believed me, oh cynical one? I know you have always looked upon my
esoteric studies with some disdain. Do not worry, I never felt insulted. Actually I felt rather sorry for you.... you were missing out on a tremendous body of human experience just because you felt the need to reject everything which did not fit into your
particular worldview. Guess I have the last laugh.”

MacLeod stood up and walked over to Enkidu, firmly grasping the old man’s shoulders. He looked into those ebony eyes and
in a pained voice asked “Tell me what happened! Please. What did this man do?”

Enkidu gently removed the Highlander’s hands from his shoulders and held them in his own, like a priest comforting one of his
parishioners. “He simply performed the ceremony of the Book of the Dead... without the extreme embalming practices used by
the Egyptians on their mortal corpses. You see, the Book WAS originally a ceremony for the restoration of dead Immortals. A
mortal either witnessed the ceremony or got a copy of the text and tried to apply it to the funerary practices of his own kind. Hemust have reasoned that if it worked on one body, it must work on all. A nice thought I must say. It became an integral part ofthe Egyptian culture... just one example of how Immortals have shaped the course of history.”

Joe shook his head. “No, no, I don’t get it. If it was *that* simple, how come it’s never been recorded by the Watchers? How
come we’ve never heard of it. Surely *someone* else would have done it since Ancient Egypt!”

Methos looked at Joe. “How do you know the Book of the Dead isn’t supposed to be part of the Chronicle?”

Joe was stunned.

Methos glanced over at MacLeod, who had walked over to the window and was intently staring at water.

The Scot turned and asked Methos “So why then hasn’t someone else tried it?”

Methos gave the all too obvious answer. “MacLeod, do you have ANY idea how much knowledge the world has lost over the
centuries? The Fall of Rome, the burning of the Great Library in Alexandria, the destruction of the Mayan civilization by the
conquistadors, the bombing of Europe in World War II. Do you realize how much the world has lost due to man’s petty
conflicts? Do you think the Immortals are immune to this? Think how much of our heritage has been lost. Think how much morewould have been lost if it weren’t for the Watchers.”

Joe was a bit surprised but heartened to hear the impostor Watcher speak so enthusiastically about his group.

Then Enkidu let the other shoe drop. “And it is not as simple as merely reciting a few scrolls of ancient chants. The
circumstances are very specific.... The Immortal who has taken the Quickening must be willing to give it back.... in fact must
have wanted to refuse it in the first place.... must be strong enough in his passion to cast it out, to will it to go back where it
belongs. And according to the ritual as written, there must be attending Immortals of a like mind, those who would also wish thedead restored with every fiber of their being. How often do you think these circumstances have arisen. ”

Joe chuckled. “Oh, about once a millennium or so.... when a jealous husband cuts off his wife’s head in a fit of anger or
something.”

Enkidu nodded. “I suspect it was very rare, even when the real purpose of the ritual was known to some of our kind. The
incident I witnessed was the accidental beheading of my best friend, a noble named Bebti 3500 years ago by a slave who went
berserk. His wife was the closest Immortal at the scene and received the Quickening. Tetteta performed the ritual in the old
tomb of Unas with myself, and Bebti’s wife and his student in attendance. After a long emotionally draining ritual, Bebti was
restored to us, whole, intact, himself again... surprisingly unchanged by the entire experience which he did not remember clearly.My friends have long since perished in the Game, as did Tetteta -- I fear I am the only Immortal alive who knows the truth andhas witnessed it first hand.”

MacLeod looked over at Enkidu with hopeful eyes. “Do you think you could perform the ceremony? Is it possible? I....I....” his
voice began to choke with emotion.

Enkidu walked over and put a soft hand on the Scot’s shoulder. “Yes, Highlander, I do believe I can.”

Methos and Joe silently looked at Enkidu with hope written on their faces.

Enkidu continued encouraging MacLeod. “I believe you have proven to be up to the challenge. And I know everyone else in
this room would like nothing more than to have your young friend returned to you. So yes, I promise, we will try to restore him
to you... but after we have confronted the Demon -- Richie is more useful inside you now than without.”

Then he added “Besides, we have to regain possession of his body first, do we not?”

MacLeod looked puzzled for a moment but accepted the elder Immortal’s words. He could wait.... he could do anything....
whatever it took....

Part 6: The Serpent

“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.”
-- Robert Frost “Fire and Ice.”

Joe absentmindedly began thumbing through a large weathered volume Enkidu had tossed on the coffee table. It contained
countless representations of gods and goddesses from many ancient cultures. “There sure are a lot of snakes in here!” Joe
noted.

Enkidu smiled slyly. “The snake has been a symbol of evil in many cultures -- Tiamet in Babylonia, Set in Egypt, Az in Persia,
Eve and Tree of Knowledge.”

“The beast that slithers upon its belly -- the lowest of the low.” Methos added dramatically.

Enkidu looked over at his old friend. “But you forget, Methos, that the snake has other properties. It ‘dies’ and is ‘reborn’
every year through the process of hibernation and shedding its skin. In many cultures it is the ultimate symbol of resurrection, notonly a single resurrection, but a continual cycle of rebirth..... Eternity and the Cosmos.”

“The Ouroboros,” Methos added with a nod.

“Your-a what?” Joe asked with a scowl.

Enkidu turned to a dog-eared page in the book and pointed to one of mankind’s oldest known symbols. “Ourorobos -- the
ancient circular symbol of a snake devouring its own tail. It was considered the embodiment of eternal return, resurrection,
rebirth. For every ending there is a beginning, an eternal cycle of repetition. This symbol is found in the artwork of countless
cultures, from Greece to China, Phoenicia to Scandinavia. Always with the same meaning.”

MacLeod looked over at Enkidu with a puzzled look on his face. “Eternal cycles? I thought we were dealing with the end of
time here? The ultimate battle? The Millennium?”

Enkidu shook his ancient head. “My friend, you have been prejudiced by western ways. Have you not studied the religions and
philosophies of other lands?”

MacLeod nodded. “Yes, of course. But doesn’t every beginning have an end eventually?”

Enkidu walked over to MacLeod and crouched down so that his eyes looked directly into MacLeod’s soul. “Nothing ever dies
MacLeod. Do you not know that? Energy is converted into matter, matter into energy. Life into dust, dust into life. The very
atoms that make up your body were forged inside the fiery hearts of stars which exploded billions of years ago. Some scientists
believe the entire cosmos is cyclic, expanding then contracting, each Big Bang followed by a Big Crunch which gives rise to
another universe, another Cosmic Time, an eternal cycle with no beginning, no end. Ouroboros written in the language of
quantum physics.”

Enkidu stood up and walked over to where Methos stood next to the porthole. “The concept of an ‘end’ to Cosmic time is a
fairly recent addition to world religions. From the Hindus to the Icelanders, cosmologies were developed with endless cosmic
cycles of the rebirth of the world. Take the dance of Shiva for example. Shiva is called the Destroyer.... but he is also the
Creator. His great dance represents the energy of the universe producing and destroying material forms. Just as one person maydie in their mortal life, they are reincarnated into another material form. And so on until they become One with Brahma, whenthey pierce the veil of illusion which we are clothed with, the illusion of separation.

When a soul realizes that it is One with the Cosmos, it escapes the cycle of reincarnation and becomes part of Eternity. Just as
the Cosmos is reborn, so is the soul, but now as part of the Eternal, not in the flesh. As the Bhagavadgita proclaims, ‘Beyond
the power of the sword and fire, beyond the power of waters and winds, the spirit is everlasting, omnipresent, never-changing,
never-moving, ever One.’ ”

Joe listened with interest but ..... “I don’t mean to sound too practical here, but what does all this mumbo jumbo have to do withMac defeating the Demon?”

Enkidu knowingly smiled. <<More than you know, my Watcher friend... but you will soon.>> “The snake is also a symbol of
wisdom -- see the watchfulness of its lidless eyes. The Ophites, a Gnostic body of snake worshippers from the second to sixth
centuries C.E., believed that Eve was tempted not by the Devil, but by an aspect of the Divine Wisdom, a great teacher and
civilizer of humanity, the father of all knowledge and science.”

“At least someone saw that knowledge wasn’t evil.” Methos drolly snipped.

Enkidu continued. “The supreme deity of the Ophites was Abraxas, who was depicted as having the body of a man, but the
head of a rooster or hawk and twin snakes for legs. The bird head represented watchfulness and foresight, while the serpentine
legs symbolized mystery and eternity. Another ancient symbol borrowed by a specific religious cult for their own uses.”

Enkidu showed the three men a picture of Abraxas in the dusty volume.

“Very attractive.” Joe quipped.

Enkidu took the book and turned it upside-down and pointed at the symbol. “Look familiar, Watcher?”

Joe gasped -- then looked at his wrist.

It was the symbol of the Watchers!

Part 7: The Book of the Watchers

“See then what Azazel has done, how he has taught all iniquity on the earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were made in heaven.”
-- “Enoch 1: The Book of the Watchers”, Chap. 9

MacLeod and Methos looked over at the Joe’s wrist and the inverted Abraxas symbol with stunned faces.

“What... what does it mean?” Joe stammered. “Do you know where the Watchers originated? When? By whom?”

Enkidu put the book down and put a hand on Joe’s wrist. “No, Watcher, I do not know precisely when and where and by
whom. But I think I understand why. And it is not what you think. Better prepare to have your faith shaken a bit, friend. And
you may find that you have been truer to your oath than anyone ever gave you credit for.”

Joe looked up at the Ancient Immortal with his mouth open and wide eyes. He pulled his wrist away and wiped his face with
both hands, then held his chin in his hands, his heart furiously beating in his chest.

“Ever read ‘Genesis,’ Joseph?” Enkidu asked.

“Of course!” Joe answered.

“Then you will remember the sons of God who married human women, fathered children, and caused the spread of evil.” Enkidu answered. “Do you also remember the hierarchy of angels of St. Thomas Aquinas?”

Joe thought for a moment. “Seraphim, Cherubim..... um, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues..... Powers, Principalities, ......
Archangels, Angels.”

“Very nice. I see Sunday school did you some good,” Enkidu nodded. “But what they did not tell you was the original role of the lowest order of angels. Among these are the Sons of God who fell with Satan. The Watchers.”

Joe felt every hair on his body stand on end as Methos laughed. “Oh, THAT’S a good one! The Watchers, the original
deceivers, the spreaders of evil, the servants of Satan! I guess Horton had the right idea after all!”

MacLeod gave Methos a dirty look and walked over to sit on the couch next to the increasingly agitated Dawson.

“Forgive my flippant friend, Joe,” Enkidu said as he also shot Methos a displeased look. Methos stopped laughing abruptly and
cleared his throat loudly.

Enkidu continued his story. “There is very little written about the Watcher angels in the canon of the Bible. However, there is
much written in the Apocrypha, those books rejected by the councils who decided which writings were to become gospel.
Although Genesis probably dates to about 1300 BC in its written form, it is much, much older and draws upon even more
ancient sources, such as the Sumerian flood epic. Likewise the apocryphal Books of Enoch draw heavily upon older
Zoroastrian influences and even older Sumerian texts. Thus we have a melting pot of religious ideas, drawing upon ingredients
from various peoples. Who is to say where the original ideas germinated? Perhaps they are older than civilization itself.
Nonetheless, the most detailed accounts of the Watcher angels come from an Ethiopian text of the First Book of Enoch dating
from the second century BCE, written in Aramaic and found in the Qumran caves. The first thirty six chapters of the work are
sometimes called The Book of the Watchers.”

Enkidu walked over to his backpack and pulled out a thick book of Apocryphal texts. He put the book down on the coffee
table and it naturally opened to the weakest part of the binding -- the most read part of the volume..... The Book of the
Watchers.

Enkidu motioned to Joe. “Pick it up. Read to us. Begin with Chapter 6.”

Joe picked up the book with trembling hands and read in an equally unsteady voice.

“And it came to pass, when the sons of men had increased, that in those days there were born to them fair and beautiful
daughters. And the angels, the sons of heaven, saw them and desired them. And they said to one another, Come, let us choose
for ourselves wives from the children of men, and let us beget for ourselves children. And Semyaza, who was their leader, said
to them, I fear that you may not wish this deed to be done, and that I alone will pay for this great sin. And they all answered himand said, Let us all swear an oath, and bind one another with curses not to alter this plan, but to carry out this plan effectively.Then they all swore together and all bound one another with curses to it. And they were in all two hundred, and they camedown on Ardis which is the summit of Mount Hermon. And they called the mountain Hermon, because on it they swore andbound one another with curses.”

Joe cleared his throat and looked over at Enkidu who motioned him to continue.

“And they took wives for themselves, and everyone chose for himself one each. And they began to go in to them and were
promiscuous with them. And they taught them charms and spells, and showed to them the cutting of roots and trees. And they
became pregnant and bore large giants, and their height was three thousand cubits. These devoured all the toil of men, until men
were unable to sustain them. And the giants turned against them in order to devour men. And they began to sin against birds,
and against animals, and against reptiles and against fish, and they devoured one another’s flesh and drank the blood from it.
Then the earth complained about the lawless ones.

And Azazel taught men to make swords, and daggers, and shields and breastplates. And he showed them the things after these,
and the art of making them: bracelets, and ornaments, and the art of making up the eyes and of beautifying the eyelids, and the
most precious and choice stones, and all kinds of colored dyes. And the world was changed. And there was great impiety and
much fornication, and they went astray, and all their ways became corrupt. Amezarek taught all those who cast spells and cut
roots, Armaros the release of spells, and Baraqiel astrologers, and Kokabel portents, and Tamiel taught astrology, and Asradel
taught the path of the moon. And at the destruction of men they cried out, and their voices reached heaven.

And then Michael, Gabriel, Suriel and Uriel looked down from heaven and saw the mass of blood that was being shed on the
earth and all the iniquity that was being done on the earth. And they said to one another, Let the devastated earth cry out now
with the sounds of their cries unto the gate of heaven. And now, to you O holy ones of heaven, the souls of men complain,
saying, Bring our suit before the Most High.”

Joe wiped the sweat off his brow and looked at MacLeod, then Enkidu who once again motioned him to continue.

“The Lord said to Raphael, bind Azazel by his hands and feet, and throw him into the darkness. And split open the desert which is in Dudael, and throw him in there. And throw on him jagged and sharp stones, and cover him with darkness; and let him stay there forever, and cover his face, that he may not see light, and that on the great day of judgment he may be hurled into the fire. And restore the earth which the angels have ruined, and announce the restoration of the earth, for I shall restore the earth, so that not all the sons of men shall be destroyed through the mystery of everything which the Watchers made known and taught to their sons. And the whole earth has been ruined by the teaching of the works of Azazel, and against him write down all sin. And the Lord said to Gabriel, Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates and against the sons of the fornicators, and destroy the sons of the fornicators and the sons of the Watchers from amongst men. And send them out, and send them against one another, and let them destroy themselves in battle, for they will not have length of days.”

MacLeod and Methos looked at each other, then at MacLeod’s and Richie’s swords, which were propped up in the far corner of the barge.

Joe swallowed hard and read onward without further prompting from Enkidu.

“Enoch, scribe of righteousness, go, inform the Watchers of heaven who have left the high heaven and the holy eternal place,
and have corrupted themselves with the women, and have done as the sons of men do, and have taken wives for themselves,
and have become completely corrupt on the earth. They will have on earth neither peace nor forgiveness of sin, for they will not
rejoice in their sons. The slaughter of their beloved ones they will see, and over the destruction of their sons they will lament and
petition forever. But they will have neither mercy nor peace.”

Enkidu gently put his hand on the book . “Enough.”

Joe looked at him with pleading eyes. “But what does it all mean, Enkidu? Are we evil? What about the Immortals... where do
they fit into all this?”

Enkidu looked over at his two Immortal friends. “It is an allegory, as are all scriptural works. An allegory written by a man like
Horton I believe, a man who had no fondness for Immortals and believed the Watchers to be cursed, punished for what he
perceived to be their sins. But like all such texts, we find the truth not in a literal translation, but in interpreting the symbolism,
carefully utilizing other comparable texts as guides. The original duties of the Watcher angels appears to have been to watch
over mankind, in the sense of protecting them, and instructing them in the ways of goodness and truth.”

“You mean like Guardian Angels?” Joe asked.

“Precisely.” Enkidu nodded. “In fact in some translations they are in fact called the Guardian Angels. But the writer of the
Enochian text believed that the Watcher Angels corrupted their holy mission by giving mankind secret knowledge -- the making
of weapons, jewelry, cosmetics, knowledge of astrology and medicine -- what we might call the useful arts of antiquity. And for
this they were punished, because knowledge is power, and knowledge can be corrupted for evil.”

“Like Prometheus punished for giving fire to mankind.” MacLeod mused aloud.

Enkidu nodded. “But the story of a beneficent teacher or god giving the useful knowledge to mankind is far older than the
Enochian texts. This story traces its lineage directly from Ea, the Babylonian god, who in turn can be traced back to the
Sumerian god Enki.”

“All roads lead to Sumer.” Methos half kiddingly quipped.

“At least in terms of the cultures of southern Europe, Western Asia, and northern Africa.” Enkidu returned. “It is not called ‘The Cradle of Civilization’ for nothing. Although I would say you were one of its least impressive exports.”

Methos shot his friend a dirty look at that last remark.

Enkidu smirked and continued his discussion. “So the story of a transmitter of ‘secret’ knowledge is an old one. An archetype in Jung’s psychology if you will. But what about the secret knowledge of Immortals and their existence? If you were an outsider
observing both the Game and the Watchers, how would you describe it? Especially if you were aghast at the entire bloody
mess.”

“Like a curse from God..... sons being forced to kill each other while their fathers watched helplessly.” Joe softly spoke.

“You get the point, my friend.” Enkidu proudly replied.

“But what about our role in the Game..... are we supposed to just record, to preserve the secret knowledge of who and what
the Immortals are?” Joe asked.

“What kind of Guardian Angel would that make you?” Enkidu chuckled. “No, although the angels mainly watched the goings on of mankind, they intervened when necessary. Likewise with the Immortals. When evil interjects itself in an unwarranted way,
then the secret knowledge that is passed on from Watcher to Watcher is revealed, their purpose becomes known.”

“You’re being too damn cryptic, Enkidu. Just like those damned ancient books.” Joe said with a tinge of annoyance. “What are
you talking about? WHAT secret knowledge? There are no secrets passed on from Watcher to Watcher other than the basic
understanding of who the Immortals are and what they do. If there WAS some hidden knowledge, it’s long gone.... I can assure you *I* don’t know anything!”

Enkidu grabbed the Watcher’s wrist and pointed at the tattoo. “It is all here, Watcher. Engraved on your arm, as it has been on
the arm of generations of Watchers before you. And before that on pendants and amulets, runes and parchments. Like all
mystic symbols, its original form has been simplified over the millennia, carving away all but the essentials, retaining the symbolic
meaning if one cares to look. Even though the symbol became inverted it is not mistranslated..... just ignored. Well you can
ignore it no more. For your role in the battle has been staring you in the face the entire time.”

Joe looked at the Ancient Immortal in stunned silence while Methos and MacLeod also waited to hear what would come next.

Enkidu released Joe’s arm and grabbed the book of symbols. In the back was a tattered piece of paper with two handdrawn
symbols -- a modern Watcher’s symbol, and an inverted Abraxas surrounded by an Ouroboros.

The four men fixed their attention on the symbols, scanning between the two uncannily similar images.

Enkidu finally looked into Joe’s eyes and spoke in a soft voice. “The Abraxas.... the ever vigilant watcher, secure in his ancient
knowledge of the secret of Immortality, keeper of mysteries, with the foresight to take part in the battle when called upon.....The Ouroboros.... the symbol of immortality, rebirth, eternity, unity. The Immortals you watch. The miraculous rebirth of seemingly dead bodies. The eternal battle of good versus evil. The One.”

“As in There Can Be Only One?” Joe asked.

Enkidu shook his head. “No, Watcher, as in All are One. Or all must be as One if the battle is to be won. You have here before you the key to the battle.”

Part 8: The Messenger

“All beings are born in delusion, the delusion of division which comes from desire and hate.” -- Bhagavadgita, 7:27

“Haven’t you ever wondered why God allows evil to exist in the world, Highlander?” Enkidu asked.

MacLeod nodded. “Hasn’t everyone? But isn’t part of faith believing that God has a plan for it all?”

Enkidu walked over to the window and looked out at the clear night sky. “There must be a balance, especially if Man is to have Freewill. How do we know what is good unless we understand evil? How do you know light unless you know dark? Pleasure and pain, birth and death, yin and yang, heaven and hell, love and hate. Matter and antimatter. The symmetry of nature is mirrored in the symmetry of the human form -- two arms, two legs, two eyes. But the source of it all is One -- one head, one
heart, one soul. Just as you cannot banish evil from one’s soul you cannot banish evil from the world. The goal is to maintain the
balance. It is when the balance is tipped in favor of evil that we notice the battle... but the battle is eternal.”

Joe fingered the crucifix around his neck absentmindedly as Enkidu continued.

“In any monotheism, God must create both good and evil. As such, there must be an adversary or rebel, Satan if you want the
classical Christian archetype. But the adversary appears in many religions - Set, Apollyon, Huwawa, Tiamet, Yamm, Anzu,
Ahriman. Whatever his name, his meaning is the same. He is the embodiment of evil in contrast to the embodiment of good. But
one cannot exist without the other, like two hands clasping they are the mirror images of each other, yet a part of each other. By experiencing its opposite, it is enriched, it realizes more of itself. My friends, good and evil are not at enmity, they are not even two... they are One.”

Methos looked at the floor, crossing his arms so tightly it looked as though he was hugging himself. MacLeod looked over at
Enkidu who turned to face the Scot. “So what’s happening? Why is the Demon attacking now? Why me? Why did it make me
kill Richie?”

Enkidu walked over to the guilt-ridden Highlander and looked him straight in the eye. “The Demon did not make you kill Richie
-- Richie willingly let you take his head.”

Joe shot his eyes towards Enkidu. “You can’t honestly believe that Richie would willingly walk into Mac’s sword like a
lemming?”

Enkidu smiled. “That’s exactly what I am saying. Richie knew what he was doing, at least on a subconscious level. He knew that he had to become One with the Champion in order to help him. So he let you take his Quickening.”

MacLeod turned and looked at Joe with a tear in his eye. He was suddenly struck by what Richie had said in this very barge
when discussing the battle with the Demon.

************************************************************************

“I have no idea what I’m up against,” a confused MacLeod said.

Richie answered “I think it’s what are *we* up against.”

“Look, according to Landry it’s coming for me,” MacLeod answered.

“Yeah, well I’m not going anywhere.”

MacLeod got exasperated at his friend. “Richie it’s not something we’re going to argue about.”

“Hey, Mac -- would you leave me hanging? It’s my choice. It’s not yours.”

“We don’t even know what it is!”

Richie put a hand on his shoulder. “You want to find out. I’ll be right there with you.”

*************************************************************************

Joe silently looked back at his friend, feeling all the torment engulfing the Immortal’s soul.

Enkidu spoke to the group. “You would have all known it too if you had listened to Daray instead of ridiculing him.”

“Who?” Joe asked.

“The ‘other’ Methos” Enkidu answered.

Methos looked up at his ancient friend. “You knew that nutcase?”

Enkidu shot him arrows with his eyes. “Yes, Methos, I knew him. Very well in fact. He was a student of mine. And he was not
a nutcase, far from it. He was much wiser than you gave him credit for.”

Methos shook his head slowly. “I don’t believe it. What did *he* know that was so special?”

Enkidu spoke slowly and deliberately. “He knew how to fight the Demon.”

The three friends looked at Enkidu in disbelief and shock.

Enkidu relished the response. “Tell me, MacLeod, what did the Demon say to you before you killed Richie? How did it taunt
you?”

MacLeod swallowed hard as memories of the demonic figures of Richie and Horton and Kronos drove him almost to madness.

**************************************************************

The demon Richie taunted his friend with a sneer and a cold tone in his voice.

“You, me, me, you, is that how you see me? You don’t even understand your place in any of this, do you?”

**************************************************************

Enkidu drove MacLeod to recount more of that awful experience

**************************************************************
MacLeod looked at the demonic visions and in exasperation asked “What the hell are you?”

The visions of Horton, Richie and Kronos said in turn

“I am Set.”
“I am Ahriman.”
“I am everything your people call demons and devils.”
“I am anger, I am the dark.”
“I bring chaos and fear, doubt and anarchy.”
“ I existed before time began and I will exist when time is ended.”

*****************************************************************************

“What does it all mean?” MacLeod asked with a pained look.

Enkidu walked over and looked at Methos who shot him a knowing look in return.

“It means exactly what the Demon said. You picture evil and good as separate, as you and him, us and them. You do not
understand that division is artificial. That it is not about battling evil with a sword, but refusing to succumb to its treachery. His
weapons are exactly as he recounted -- chaos, fear, doubt, anarchy. Illusion. He is the Father of the Lie. And he is eternal,
because he is a part of Eternity. As long as good exists, so shall evil. You cannot kill him.... you are not supposed to. You can
merely reverse the swing of the pendulum in the favor of good, return the balance back towards the light.”

MacLeod suddenly remembered a conversation he’d had with Richie about the false Methos and Culbraith.

***************************************************************************************

Richie tried to get his stubborn Scottish friend to listen to him for once.

“But Mac, if you talk to him, you might find that you understand each other. You know, you might even find a reason not to
fight.”

MacLeod wasn’t buying this peacenik shtick.

“I don’t need a reason to talk to him, Richie. Some people are evil, not bad, not misunderstood, just plain evil. And you don’t
talk to evil, you destroy it.”

Richie shook his head and tried to get his friend to see his point.

“But Mac, evil only exists because of fear, that’s what Methos is talking about.”

******************************************************************************************

MacLeod had to finally admit that he should have listened to his young friend.

“So what did this Daray guy know?” Joe asked pointedly. “How come he figured it out?”

Enkidu sighed as he thought of his dead friend. “Daray was King of the Persian Empire when he died his first death in 404 BC.
Your history books knew him as Darius II, but Daray was his Persian name. I was a Zoroastrian priest attached to the Royal
court at the time. When he died, I left the court and took him with me to a village in Southern Babylonia where I taught him what he needed to know as an Immortal. He had been well versed in the arts of war as King, so his training was relatively
straightforward. We stayed together for a hundred years, moving from town to town every decade.

Those were fascinating times. The Persian Empire was crumbling, its death knell sounded when Alexander the Great captured
Babylonia in 331 BC from Darius III. And spiritually the times were rich. Greek mysticism, Judaism, ancient Egyptian lore,
Zoroastrianism, the native myths of the Tigris and Euphrates Valley, all collided and permuted. From the standpoint of
comparative religion it was a virtual buffet. Cults arose which picked and chose pieces from various religious traditions,
discarding those tenets they found unpalatable.

Daray had been raised in the Zoroastrian faith, although he had never been a fervent believer. But in the century after his first
death, Daray embraced it like a zealot -- he was convinced that it contained secret truths, truths affecting Immortals.

Daray noted that many cultures have myths of periodic battles between a great demon and a champion... a series of repeating
apocalypses, separated by times of peace and goodness. The Zoroastrian tradition is no different. It speaks of a great cosmic
battle between Ohrmazd and the forces of good versus Ahriman and his minions of evil. Infinite Time himself, the god Zurvan,
had given birth to the Ohrmazd and Ahriman - two sides of his own essence. A true dichotomy born of the One.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, there are a number of different classes of beings created by Ohrmazd to aid in the ongoing battle.
The seven Amesha Spentas, or Archangels, were called the ‘Bounteous Immortals’, and their strength was their ability to act as
One in thought, word and deed. They could behold each other’s spirits, read each other’s thoughts. Daray thought this was
symbolic of the Immortals, who can sense each other’s presence. Man also plays a role in the battle, some aiding Good, some
aiding Evil.”

“And this is where the Watchers fit in?” Joe asked.

“One would presume so, in a symbolic sense.” Enkidu replied. “The third class is more difficult to pinpoint. The Fravashis were
warrior spirits, who came down and joined with physical bodies of their own freewill to take part in the battle. The ‘Denkart’
says they, ‘having the nature of fire, quickens the wind, and by quickening the wind it brings the body to life.’ No scholars have
ever been able to pinpoint exactly what their original purpose was, although they play an important role in the oral tradition of
Zoroastrianism.

There developed in Zoroastrianism the tradition of the Saoshyant, the Savior. At the end of each Millennium, one would come
to beat back the progress of evil for a time, until the pendulum swung in the other direction heralding the next Millennium.”

“And this Savior is the Champion?” Joe asked.

“Yes, Joe.” Enkidu answered. “But take this in an allegorical sense. This story is no different than the stories of heroes or
champions in other cultures. This is a classic human archetype remember. And the idea of the Millennium should not be taken
literally either. Although Zoroastrian myths place the battles at 1000 year intervals, this is an artifact of their calendar system.
Other cultures have periodic battles, foretold at different intervals of time. For example, the Hindus believe that the god Vishnu
periodically comes to Earth in human form as an avatara when unrighteousness rules in order to set the world aright. The point is that every so often, the Demon threatens to gain control over humanity. And One will come to challenge his power.”

“What determines when the battle is actually fought?” MacLeod asked.

“The Demon feeds on the evil of mankind. When mankind tips the balance in favor of evil, it increases his power. Likewise, his
increased power affects human behavior.” Enkidu stated.

“Like a positive feedback loop,” Joe added.

“Yes. Millennial fever surrounding the year 2000 and the chaos and fear it brings is a perfect breeding ground for him. He
incubates, grows stronger, and when the time is right, he attacks. Look around you, MacLeod. How many wars have been
waged during this century? How many genocides? The Armenians at the hands of the Turks, the Jews and gypsies at the hands
of the Nazis, the Kurds at the hands of the Iraqis. Look at America in the last few years. Waco, Oklahoma City, Heaven’s
Gate. Need I go on? Joe, has there been an increase in the rate of Immortals killed in the Game over the past few years?”

“Most definitely!” Joe affirmed.

“And Methos, do you think it was an accident that Kronos picked this time to find you?” Enkidu asked.

Methos looked at Enkidu with pained eyes and quickly looked down at the floor.

“I rest my case.” Enkidu said.

MacLeod thought back to the conversation he and Richie had had when the left the opera...

***************************************************************************

Richie shook his head. “You know, I mean I don’t see what it has to do with life today.”

MacLeod tried to convince his friend “The same as it had to do 100 years ago. Things aren’t that different.”

But Richie wasn’t convinced. “It seems to me things are getting a lot worse. You watch any television lately? You know Mac,
sometimes I think the whole world’s gone crazy.”

Then Landry had shown up.

**************************************************************************************

“So how do we defeat this thing?” MacLeod asked.

Enkidu shook his head. “You do not DEFEAT it, Highlander, you merely diminish its power. You restore the balance between
good and evil by taking away its power over you. The Champion is symbolic of the world -- if the Champion falls to the
Demon, the Demon wins dominion over the world. If the Champion wins, the Demon is banished to lick its wounds until the
next pendulum swing.

Daray believed the Zoroastrian myths held a key, in a symbolic sense. Not that Zoroaster had the absolute truth, mind you, but
that perhaps he articulated the concept more clearly, so that it could be understood more fully. It is foretold that Ahriman and
his minions will be overcome by the forces of Good only when the ‘saved stop battling the saved’ -- according to the Datastan I denik, when this happens, the Demons will be forced to battle each other and in this way Good shall overcome.”

“That’s the reason for the ‘give peace a chance’ movement?” Methos asked. “He thought that if he could get the Immortals to lay down their swords that the Demon could be defeated forever?”

“A nice thought, is it not.” Enkidu replied. “I knew it would never work. But he felt that if he could convince enough Immortals to abandon the game it would at least forestall the next appearance of the Demon. Daray was also interested in the symbolism of the Fravashis. He was taken by the fact that they willingly joined the bodies of man to aid in the battle.... like a sacrifice. And he was taken by the obvious symbolic representation of their spirits as likened to a Quickening.

He felt that each Champion was strengthened by the spirit of a Fravashi-like nature.... the willing sacrifice of one who
understood the true nature of Evil... that evil is Lie and Deception and Hatred, and that evil could only be fought by Truth and
Honesty and Love. I thought he was onto something, given the prophecy I had read on that ancient cuneiform tablet. During his
travels converting Immortals to his message he was constantly looking for someone whom he felt fulfilled that role.

Just before he died he sent me a message telling me he had found such a One. Richie."

“So you’re telling me Richie knew he had to sacrifice himself in order to help MacLeod fight the Demon?” Joe asked
incredulously.

“Not consciously knew,” Enkidu replied. “But Richie took Culbraith’s Quickening, and with it, Daray’s. I believe Daray’s
knowledge was passed to Richie at a critical moment.... that he made the willing sacrifice to help his friend.”

MacLeod was silent. “But how is Richie to help me fight this thing?”

Enkidu gave him a cryptic smile. “You will know, Champion, you will know. Follow your heart, not your head in this case.....
your inherent goodness will show you the way. Remember, the Demon’s power is in his ability to deceive, to make you fall into
despair and anger and hate. You take away his power over you and you diminish his power over the world. And you will not
battle alone, my friend. Methos, Joe and I will be there as well. The Demon’s plan is to divide and conquer... we will instead
provide a unified front, and it will be the Demon who will have to split his power to try and tempt us all.”

“What about the Hermit?” MacLeod asked. “The last Champion. When I met him, he took his own head so that I could have
his Quickening. He thought it would help me somehow.”

Enkidu smiled. “I think your Hermit friend was quite mad by the time you met him. Perhaps he was trying to spare you the pain
of sacrificing one close to you. Maybe he thought that if he died for you, then you would be spared the pain of Richie’s death.
He was a fool. Obviously he did not understand that the willing sacrifice was an integral part of the battle.”

“So where does Landry fit into all of this?” Joe asked.

“Landry was at the right place at the right time. The Demon felt Landry’s fear as he gazed upon the statue.... knew that he could be manipulated. Although Landry studied the demonology of many cultures, he was especially obsessed with the Zoroastrian myths. That’s why the Demon spoke to him as Ahriman. The Demon is older than civilization itself... it has been called by many names. He chose the most advantageous name for the moment. He knew that if he planted the name of the Champion in Landry's head, that Landry would stop at nothing to find him. And once that happened, the Demon’s plan could be set into motion. Slowly drive MacLeod into madness, take away his friends, his support network. Divide and conquer. But he did not expect Richie to be a willing sacrifice.... he thought he had prevented Richie from knowing the truth by manipulating Culbraith to kill Daray. However, he could very well use Richie’s death to torment MacLeod at this point.”

Enkidu paused for a moment. “Remember, MacLeod, the Demon only has whatever power you give it. Division is its strength,
unity is yours. Like the Ouroboros - ‘The One is Everything’ “

Joe looked over at Enkidu and asked the $64,000 question. “Does that mean that the Game is a crock? That it isn’t true that
the Immortals are ordained to kill each other until only one is left? That it’s a trick by the Demon?”

Enkidu looked at Methos who became strangely uncomfortable, then walked towards the door.

“It is nearly sunrise. Get some rest, my friends. I will return at sunset to prepare for the battle.”

Part 9: Battle Angels

“What makes us free is the Gnosis
of who we were
of what we have become
of where we were
of where we have been thrown
of where to we are hastening
of what we are being freed
of what birth really is
of what rebirth really is.”

-- Gnostic credo, 2nd c. CE.

The four friends arrived at the abandoned racetrack just after sunset. They purposefully left all swords and other weapons back
at the barge. This was a battle of the mind and heart ; and a battle of the soul.

All Enkidu had told his friends was to trust their hearts and prepare for a vicious onslaught of Demonic illusions and lies. Nothing Enkidu could have said would have prepared Joe Dawson for the sight that greeted his eyes when the walked onto the field.

Joe looked over at burning torches arranged in the shape of a star. Inside he saw the most horrifying spectacle he’d ever
witnessed -- Richie’s head impaled on a pike, his blue eyes staring in accusation, his mouth open as if in an eternal silent scream. And the rest of Richie’s body was nailed to an upside-down cross, his bare feet impaled with large copper spikes onto the crossbeam, while his hands were tied together and a single painful spike driven through them both into the main beam.

Joe fought the urge to vomit.

Enkidu looked over at Joe and realized what was happening by the look on the pale mortal’s face. Methos and MacLeod had
that same look.

Enkidu stepped in front of the trio and loudly yelled to his companions “It is all an illusion! Do not give him power over you! He
is the Lord of Deception! Close your eyes and picture Richie as you wish him to be seen. Then open your eyes again and
behold what little power this Demon really has over you!”

Joe did as he was told. He thought of the young Immortal, swaggering into the Seacouver bar with his helmet under one arm, his eyes caressing a pretty waitress. Joe smiled at the memory and opened his eyes.

He saw Richie’s body lying still and unmolested on an old wooden platform near the center of the track. As Joe began to walk
towards his young friend, he felt a strange sense of calm come over him, as if he could feel Richie’s presence there amongst
them. And Joe knew that *this* was what he was meant to do... why he’d always felt the heretical urge to *do more than
watch*....

Joe was preordained to be Richie’s Guardian Angel in this moment of need...

Methos and MacLeod saw Joe walk towards the prone corpse and held their breaths, waiting for the Demon to pull its next
trick. They didn’t have to wait long.

Suddenly a 15 foot high wall of flames appeared out of nowhere blocking Joe’s progress towards his dead friend. Methos and
MacLeod almost cried out to warn Joe, who appeared oblivious to the entire thing, but Enkidu stopped them with a sharp
whisper. “Joe knows what he must do. Fear not for him, for the Demon has no power over him -- he knows his own soul and is beyond the veil of illusion. Trust in him -- learn from him. He knows the truth.”

Joe kept walking slowly but deliberately towards the wooden structure, keeping his eyes firmly focused on the body of his
friend. For just an instance he thought he glimpsed a red flash of light, but a young well-known voice in his head set him back on track.

<<Joe?>>

<<I’m right here, buddy! The cavalry’s arrived -- just hold on.>>

Joe walked unscathed through the wall of fire, which promptly disappeared after the mortal passed through.

He walked around to the back of the platform and gently put his hand on Richie’s head. Yes, the young Immortal was dead, as
dead as he could be. Yet Joe marveled how peaceful he looked, as if he were sleeping, or in suspended animation. This was no
terrible sight.... it was actually beautiful in its own strange way. Richie was safe from the Demon -- Joe would see to that. He
wouldn’t let his friend suffer anymore. A subtle violet aura formed around the Watcher and his dead friend.

The three Immortals watched Joe in quiet awe. When it became clear that Joe was in his own little trance, Enkidu told the
others

“All is prepared! The Demon will attack us now. Remember, divide and conquer is his strategy... he will try to turn us against
each other, beset us with illusion. You MUST resist! Anger and individual pain will not aid you in your fight -- we must be of
One mind. And Joe has taken away part of the Demon’s power.... he has removed the Demon’s favorite pawn. Be strong in the knowledge that the Demon can no longer use Richie against you, MacLeod. You must dig deep into your soul and touch that piece of Richie inside of you... let it become One with you... add his strength and goodness to your own. You are the
Champion.... but a warrior needs a weapon. Draw upon Richie’s love and loyalty, his honesty and faith in you. Feel his
presence.... he has given you a gift -- do not squander it! Push from your mind all guilt, all pain. Be secure that he will be restored to you once the battle is through. Once the battle is won. Do not let your fear and guilt become the Demon’s sword. Use your own weapon.... truth, wisdom, love, light. It is far sharper and stronger than any illusion the Demon can manufacture!”

The three Immortals stood in a rough triangle near one end of the racetrack, awaiting the onslaught.

Suddenly red fog rolled out from one exit... and a figure slowly walked out towards them.

They heard the familiar laugh.

“So MacLeod, I see my brother-in-law’s baby-sitting your young friend for you. Pity the boy’s in two pieces. Oh, I forgot, that
was YOUR handiwork! Nice clean cut I see. You must have a lot of practice killing your friends by now. Shall we make a list?”

MacLeod glared over at Horton, his eyes filled with hate.

Enkidu looked over at the Scot and in a strong voice said “He is NOT REAL, Duncan! None of this is real!”

“Come, come now, my cynical friend.” Horton sneered. “Are you trying to hurt my feelings? Saying I’m *not real.* MacLeod
thought I was real, last time I shot him.”

Horton produced a gun and pointed it at the Highlander. MacLeod instinctively flinched when he heard the gun fire, and he felt
the pain of a bullet entering his chest. He looked down and saw a red stain spreading.

“You see, old fool. I *am* real! I’m real just as MacLeod’s hatred for me is real. His pain is real. But I bet it’s nothing
compared to the pain of killing your own student, is it MacLeod? Did you enjoy it? Slicing his head off with your precious
katana? Watching his head fall to the ground with a thud, like a ripe melon? Standing there, helpless, as his body fell to its
knees, still clutching the sword *you* gave him? What did you feel when his headless body fell at your feet, hmmm? Did it feel
*good*?”

MacLeod closed his eyes and felt his blood begin to boil. “You bastard!”

“Sticks and stones, Highlander. But I’m no bastard. After all, *I* know who my parents are! Can you say the same, foundling?
Abandoned in the Highlands, unwanted. No wonder your ‘father’ disowned you when he found out what you were. An
abomination!”

MacLeod’s mind filled with painful memories of being abandoned by his clan after his first death.

<<Father? .....Where do I come from? .......I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod!>>

The Scot roared those last words “I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod!”

“You’re nobody!” Horton spat back at him. “You’re pathetic!”

“Why don’t you pick on somebody with a few more years experience in dealing with assholes.” Methos taunted.

“I wouldn’t dream of taking that joy away from my associate.” Horton said with a sneer.

Methos looked behind him and saw Kronos approaching, in full Horseman regalia.

“Hello brother.”

“I’m not your brother!” Methos spat back at him.

“Oh yes you are, Methos! You’re Cain, and I’m Abel. Or should I say Silas is Abel. Funny, I thought you actually *liked*
Silas. Guess I was wrong.” Kronos jeered as he walked around the shocked Methos.

“You see, MacLeod, I can be anyone, can do anything. I am all powerful! And you cannot stop me, you fool!” Horton laughed.

Enkidu looked at both of his friends and tried to think of some way to refocus their attention. He started singing slightly out of
key.

“Oh I’ll take the high road, and you take the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland before ye.”

MacLeod opened his eyes and joined his voice to the chorus.

“But me and my true love will never meet again On the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond.”

“THAT was pitiful,” Horton sneered. “It’s going to take more than campfire songs to scare me away. Come to think of it, a nice campfire WOULD make things more interesting right about now, wouldn’t it?”

Suddenly Methos found himself in the middle of a bonfire, the heat engulfing the lower third of his body. He could smell his own
flesh burning. He screamed and ran out of the pyre.

“You’ve gone soft, my brother!” Kronos taunted. “Are you not a man anymore? I think you’re a mouse. Or maybe, a rat!”

Methos felt a sharp pain on his ankles and looked down to see hundreds of rats biting at his legs. He yelped and kicked them
away.

Enkidu was trying so desperately to keep his own demons away that it was hard for him to aid his friends. In vain he cried out
“It is all an illusion! He cannot hurt you unless you give him that power! Do not give in!”

That crack was all the demon needed to attack the Akkadian.

Enkidu heard a familiar voice.

“Hello, Elder.”

He looked behind him and saw Daray walking slowly up to him.

Enkidu closed his eyes and thought to himself << You are not real.>>

He heard a laugh, then the familiar voice. “Trying to convince yourself that I’m not real? Come now, old friend. Why can’t we
talk, hmm? We used to have such nice talks... about peace... about saving the world...... about Immortals living together, with
no fighting....... but you know what? It was all a crock..... I was lying!..... making it all up as I went along...... there’s no way out of the Game..... Immortals were meant to fight each other... to the death... until there’s only one! Wouldn’t you like to be that ONE? Hmmm? Just think, you could win the Prize! Have all the knowledge and power of every Immortal who ever lived! I know you like knowledge.... you crave it..... it’s an addiction to you...... you want to know everything...... you want to
understand everything....... you’d sell your soul for the ultimate answer, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you?”

Enkidu kept his eyes tightly closed but his mind automatically visualized a picture of his former student.

“I know you’re listening, Elder..... I know you’re thinking about it.......ultimate knowledge...... there would be nothing you did
not comprehend....... and it would be so easy -- I could give it to you! All you have to do is kill MacLeod! That’s all... not a
steep price to pay for ultimate knowledge!”

Enkidu felt cold steel in his hand. He opened his eyes and saw a large sword clutched in his right hand. He threw it on the
ground and it disappeared.

“You have no power over me, Demon!” Enkidu said in a slow deliberate tone.

The vision of Daray evaporated.

Methos wasn’t having as much luck with his personal demons. The rats had finally all scurried away into thin air when he heard
Kronos’ sick laugh again.

“Brother... I think you’ve been holding out on me. Remember, we share *everything*.”

Methos looked over at the demon and saw Kronos holding Alexa by the throat.

“No, not Alexa....” Methos vainly pleaded.

“Oh yes, brother! I think she likes me, don’t you?” Kronos pulled the squirming woman’s face towards his and licked her cheek with an evil eye focusing on the furious Methos.

“And she looks so fragile. I bet you were so gentle with her. This time she’ll have a *real* man...... I won’t treat her quite so
gently. Do you think she’ll break?”

Methos was beginning to shake with anger. “You touch her you bastard and I’ll rip your heart out!”

“Hmmm, why doesn’t that scare me?” Kronos replied. “I tell you what, I’ll let you have her... in fact I’ll give her back to you --
alive! All you have to do is kill MacLeod. Think of it..... Alexa, warm, alive, healthy. What do you say, Brother?”

Methos felt a piece of cold steel materialize in his hand. He looked down at it, then up at Alexa’s terrified face. “I don’t think
so, Kronos!” he spat as he tossed the sword aside.

“Wrong choice, Brother!” Kronos sneered. With a swift move he wrenched Alexa’s head to one side snapping her neck like a
matchstick. “Oops, look what you made me do? Tsk tsk, now I’ll have to find another plaything. Or maybe I’ll just have my
way with her anyhow.... at least now she can’t put up a struggle.”

Methos roared and lunged at Kronos.

Enkidu shouted “STOP! Please Methos! She is not real! If you ever loved her at all, STOP!”

But it was too late. Methos latched his fingers around Kronos’ throat and began to choke him.

“Yesssssss, I can feel your anger, Brother. I feel your rage.... just like old times.” Kronos chortled with glee. Methos kept a
stranglehold on Kronos, who fell to his knees with an evil smile on his face.

Enkidu looked over at MacLeod.

Horton was still taunting the Highlander. “So you think that just because Richie is beyond my reach that I can’t use your loved
ones against you? Think again, MacLeod. You’ve loved and lost so many.... tragically.... you know, everyone who loves you
ends up dead, don’t they. I think you’re cursed!”

MacLeod’s jaw tightened. “Go to Hell, Horton. It won’t work. I won’t succumb to your tricks.”

“Oh, you will, MacLeod. You see, I know your heart.... I know the depths of your soul.... I know your pain... and I know how
to use it!”

“Mac!”

MacLeod turned his head. “Tess?” he said with a broken voice.

“Mac! Help me!” Tessa stood there dressed in the clothes she was wearing the night she died, her hands outstretched to him,
the gaping bullet wound pouring forth blood.

“You’re dead. You’re not real!” MacLeod said through a haze of tears. Suddenly he heard a Scottish lilt.

“Duncan?”

He whipped his head around to the other side. “Debra?”

The redhead stood there, her body bruised and battered from the fall she’d taken off the cliff, her dress torn, her arms
outstretched in a plea.

“Help me, me love! Please!”

Horton laughed. “She’s in Hell, you know. That’s where all suicide victims go. Straight to Hell.”

Duncan shook his head. “No, no, you’re not real! You slipped! You didn’t want to die! It was an accident!”

“In the eyes of the Church it was a suicide, Highlander,” Horton goaded. “Just think, your precious church damned your sweet
Debra to Hell. Her only sin was loving you! And you call *me* evil!”

Duncan turned his head back to Tessa. To Debra. To Tessa. He felt his sanity slipping away.....

<<Mac?>>

“Richie!”

MacLeod looked over to Joe... Richie’s body was still on the platform, untouched.

<<Mac! I’m not over there! I told you, I’d be right there with you when you faced the Demon!>>

MacLeod closed his eyes.

<<Richie!! Oh God, what have I done! How can I ever live with killing you?>>

Enkidu looked over at MacLeod and knew it was time.

“Highlander! Remember what I told you. Push all the guilt from your mind! Exorcise your own personal demons! Hold onto the
part of Richie inside of you! Feel his forgiveness!”

MacLeod visualized Richie in his head, alive, standing before him.

<<Richie? do you forgive me?>>

<<For what, Mac? It was *my* decision. I knew what I had to do... I just knew. Don’t ask me how.>>

<<Rich, you know I would *never* hurt you.>>

<<Yeah, Mac.... I know. So I forgive you.>>

MacLeod pictured Richie smiling at him. In his mind he reached out to give his student a warm hug.

MacLeod’s personal demon left the Highlander’s soul and became manifest.

Methos was still trying in vain to choke the life out of Kronos when he heard a familiar voice.

“So that’s what they wore in the Bronze Age. Pretty silly, if you ask me. You look like a reject from a Kiss concert.”

Methos released his grip on the demon and looked up to see Richie Ryan standing there with his sword in hand and a pissed
look on his face. Methos looked over at Joe and saw Richie’s body still lying there.

“What the...?”

“Get outta my way, Old Timer. I think Mr. Halloween here and I need to have a little chat.”

Methos moved out of the way and looked at Enkidu with wide eyes. Enkidu nodded slightly and pointed over at MacLeod. The
Scot was standing with his arms wrapped around himself, his eyes closed, and a smile on his face, as if he were in a trance.
Methos looked back at Richie, who had turned to face Horton.

“And YOU! You really, really piss me off!” Richie walked slowly towards Horton, who began to back up.

“Remember Pete? You used him to get at Mac. You killed him in cold blood, for WHAT? And you tried to kill Joe! What kind
of monster ARE YOU?”

“I’m the man you can’t kill!” Horton said nervously.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, buddy!” Richie said and lunged at Horton, piercing him through the heart.

Horton’s face turned to shock and red smoke came out of his chest wound.

Methos watched as the vision of Horton faded away to nothing.

“Now, *where* were we?” Richie said as he turned back towards Kronos.

Kronos grasped the hilt of his sword. “I don’t scare so easily, boy.”

“You know, I *really* hate it when some arrogant asshole calls me BOY!” Richie said as he lunged towards Kronos.

Enkidu and Methos watched with awe as Kronos and Richie battled. Despite the *real* Kronos’ greater experience and
power, it appeared as if Richie had the advantage from the beginning.....

His was the greater inner strength.

For, as Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod had finally realized, love and forgiveness are more powerful than hate and
vengeance.

And the Demon was paying the price.

Richie had Kronos down on his knees, then knocked the sword out of the Demon’s hand.

“Hasta la vista, baby!” Richie said as he cut off Kronos’ head with the mighty sword stroke of righteousness.

Red smoke poured from the Demon’s severed neck and a fierce howl was heard which turned deafening. Methos and Enkidu
put their hands over their ears in protest. A fierce wind came up from nowhere and red lightning flashed above their heads. They fell to the ground as a large thunderclap burst above them.

Then, it was over.

Part 10: Alpha and Omega

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord"
-- Revelation 1:8

“What the hell happened?” Methos breathlessly said as he looked over at Enkidu.

“Ask the Champion.” he replied.

MacLeod looked over at the other Immortals. “Richie.... he spoke to me..... he told me he forgave me.... I let go of my guilt....”

“The strongest Demons are those of a personal nature.” Enkidu said.

“So Duncan’s guilt manifested itself as Richie? And his Demon fought Horton and Kronos?” Methos questioned.

Enkidu nodded. “When the saved no longer battle the saved, the demons shall turn on each other.”

MacLeod smiled weakly.

The three Immortals rose from their knees and looked over at their mortal friend. The violet aura was quickly fading. Joe was
staring at Richie with a peaceful look upon his face. He’d evidently been oblivious to the entire battle.

<<Just as well>> MacLeod mused as he walked over to his friend.

Joe looked up at the Highlander. “Mac! Is it over?”

MacLeod grimly nodded. Enkidu and Methos joined him at the platform and looked down at Richie’s corpse.

“Doesn’t he look good? Almost like he’s sleeping!” Joe excitedly announced.

The three Immortals shot him a confused glance. Joe looked back down at Richie and saw why he’d received that look.

Richie didn’t look very good at all.

“But, but I don’t understand? I saw him... he looked so peaceful a few minutes ago.... what happened?” Joe stammered.

Enkidu gently grasped his shoulder. “It is all right, Joe. You needed to believe Richie was all right, so you saw him in that way.
You created your own illusion so you could watch over your friend without fear, without worry. Now you see him as he truly is
--- just another corpse. Luckily the Demon chose to keep his body from decaying, otherwise he would be in even worse shape. I was hoping this would be the case. But now it is our turn. We must prepare the body for transport to Egypt. Methos -- please get the box out of the car for me.”

Methos silently turned and ran for the parking lot.

Enkidu looked at the MacLeod and Dawson. “Gentleman, with your help this will proceed a lot faster. I do not promise that it
will be pleasant, but it *is* necessary!”

MacLeod grimly nodded. He’d seen his share of corpses in his life.... he could deal with whatever was necessary. For Richie’s
sake.

As Enkidu began removing Richie’s blood-soaked clothes, Joe reached down and removed Richie’s boots and socks.
MacLeod took the solitary remaining glove off of Richie’s hand and put it into his pocket where its partner awaited, like a
talisman.

Methos arrived back with a large pine box just as the last vestiges of Richie’s clothing were removed. Enkidu silently took out a
large Tupperware container of a strange, sweet smelling brown liquid and began washing Richie’s body from head to toe twice,
paying special attention to the head and neck, all the time reciting in a strange ancient tongue.

When this process was done, Enkidu took a case of gauze bandages out of the box and began to wrap the dead Immortal’s
body in a deliberate pattern, reciting specific words of magic over each part as he swathed it.

Methos closed his eyes and translated Enkidu’s words internally.

<<Osiris, thou hast received the perfume which shall make thy members perfect. Thou receivest the source of life and thou
takest the form of the great Disk of the Sun, which uniteth itself unto thee to give enduring form to thy members.>>

Methos shuddered slightly and wondered if there really were any gods to hear this supplication.

Once the bandaging was complete, Enkidu smeared the entire mummy with sticky resin to make it airtight, still repeating ancient
words of power.

Finally he wiped his brow with his shirt sleeve. “It is done. Let us put him into the coffin and get to the airport... we have a plane to catch.”

---------------------

Mercifully the four men were the only passengers in the first class compartment, so they could converse in relative privacy.

Joe looked over at Enkidu, who was in the aisle seat next to Methos. “So, his body is ok?”

Enkidu nodded. “His body will make the trip without significant additional decay.”

“What about his soul?” Joe asked. “How do we know we can reunite that with his body?”

Methos quietly said “Chikhai Bardo”

Enkidu chuckled softly.

Joe looked over at Methos. “Excuse me?”

Methos looked over at the Watcher. “Chikhai Bardo, the Transitional State of the Moment of Death.”

MacLeod murmured. “The Tibetan Book of the Dead.”

Joe whipped his head from looking at Methos to Mac and back again. “Will one of you geniuses please explain to this mere
mortal just what the hell you’re talking about?”

Methos closed his eyes and nodded slightly. “Sorry, Joe. The Tibetan Book of the Dead describes the ritual of dying. The first
period after death is called the Chikhai Bardo. The deceased is unable to recognize the Pure Light of Creation which presents
itself before him. Therefore he remains in a transcendental state for 3 to 4 days, clinging to the illusion of life.”

“Like a ghost, refusing to pass on to the Other Side?” Joe asked.

Methos smirked. “I wouldn’t exactly put it like that, but yeah, I guess the analogy works.”

“And what if they’re really stubborn and refuse to pass on?” Joe asked.

Enkidu jumped in. “According to the Tibetan Master Djwahal Kuhl, a person can refuse to pass on if death is not part of an
inner plan. Although their life force has departed from the physical body, it remains as an ethereal body for days or weeks
before moving to a higher plane. It is written that it is possible for the physical body to regain control of the etheric body within
that initial period after death, if the soul’s purpose has yet to be completed.”

Joe laughed slightly. “Well, since Richie hasn’t slept with the entire Dallas Cowboy Cheerleading squad, I guess his soul
purpose is unfulfilled.”

The two elder immortals stifled laughs, while MacLeod smiled broadly for the first time in two days.

Enkidu looked out the airplane window at the rising sun.....

The dawn of the third day.

Part 11: Saqqara

“Gods and men have turned their faces towards thee and weep for thee together.... I call after thee and weep, so that my cry is heard to heaven, but thou hearest not my voice... thou didst love none but me, my brother! My brother!”
-- Lamentation of Isis and Nephthys for Osiris

Around sunset the group arrived at the desert plain of Saqqara, about 10 miles west of the Cairo city limit with their precious
cargo carefully packed in the back of the van. Methos got out of the front seat and looked at the ruins of Unas’ tomb, while his
friends followed.

“What a mess!” Methos noted.

The pyramid was 62 feet high and 200 feet wide on each side. Weathering and erosion had taken their toll on the structure, but
vandals had done worse. The front was surrounded by heaps of broken stone and debris, a testament to the grave robbers who had repeatedly tried to break in. The tomb was now accessible without constraint, although there was nothing left of interest inside, except to scholars. Enkidu lit a torch which he passed to Joe.

“Light the way, Watcher.”

Joe nodded slightly as he saw the three Immortals grab several backpacks and gently remove the large box from the back of the van which held the body of Richie Ryan. He sighed and slowly walked into the tomb, letting his eyes get adjusted to the dim
light. He noticed the hieroglyphs covering the tomb walls and the pictures depicted ancient Egyptian life. He followed the main
pathway into a large inner room which he assumed was the burial chamber.

The walls were covered with perpendicular lines of hieroglyphs painted in green. Grave robbers had pried off the cover of the
black basalt sarcophagus, and floor stones had been turned up in an effort to find buried treasure.

The Immortals gently laid the box on the floor and opened the lid. Joe looked at Richie’s corpse, wrapped in bandages and
sucked in a quick breath. <<This hocus pocus’d better work!>>

MacLeod put his hands under Richie’s shoulders, Methos grabbed his hips and Enkidu took his feet. In one swift move they
moved Richie from the box to the ancient basalt altar. Enkidu laid white and blue lotus flowers upon the corpse, and the strange
exotic incense he lit began to fill the tomb with sweet smells.

Enkidu suddenly reached over and with a gold knife cut off MacLeod’s ponytail and threw it onto a large candle he had lit while muttering in an ancient tongue. The flames lept into the air and the stench of burning hair mixed with the incense-laden
atmosphere.

As the shocked Scot looked at the ancient Immortal, Enkidu answered the question before it was asked. “When Isis came upon the body of Osiris she was overcome with grief and sheared off a lock of her hair in lamentation and sacrificed it to the gods.”

MacLeod nodded with a tight jaw. <<I’d sacrifice a hell of a lot more than that...>>

Enkidu outstretched his arms and began reciting the story of the ceremonial journey of Osiris through the seven Arit (mansions)
and the twenty one pylons (doorways).

Joe listened in awe as the ancient Immortal recited a ritual which hadn’t been spoken in thousands of years. Enkidu had decided to perform the ceremony in English so that the words of power could draw from the emotions of Richie’s friends. Some of the ceremony seemed irrelevant, almost silly, but other parts pierced him to the bone with their clarity, their obvious connection to the Immortals.

“Saith Osiris, triumphant ‘I have brought unto thee the bones of thy jaw in Re-stau, I have brought thee thy backbone in Annu,
gathering together all thy members there. I have driven back Apep for thee. I have poured water upon thy wounds; I have made a path among you. I am the Ancient One among the gods. I have made the offering of Osiris, who hath triumphed with victory, gathering his bones and bringing together all his limbs.’ “

Methos closed his eyes and listened to Enkidu’s cadence, unconsciously translating the words back into ancient Egyptian to feel their full effect. Although he’d heard them all before, he never, in his wildest dreams, ever thought they could have a real
meaning. Now he hoped against hope that they were gospel.

“May my mouth be given unto me that I may speak with it, and my two feet to walk withal, and my two hands and arms to
overthrow my foe. May Seb, the Prince of the gods, open wide his two jaws to me; may he open my eyes which are blinded;
may he cause me to stretch out my feet which are bound together; and may Annubis make my legs firm that I may stand upon
them.”

MacLeod stood grim-faced staring down at Richie’s body, swathed in bandages, so still, so still, so terribly still.... and if he
could have, he would have willed it to move.... he would have given his own life as a sacrifice to undo the terrible thing he’s
done to this innocent.... he wondered if that was a part of the ceremony which Enkidu hadn’t told him about... yet.

“I am the Great One, the son of the Great One; I am Fire, the son of Fire, to whom was given his head after it had been cut off.
The head of Osiris was not carried away from him; let not the head of this man be carried away from him. I have knit together
my bones, I have made myself whole and sound; I have become young once more; I am Osiris, the Lord of Eternity.”

As the ceremony dragged on, Enkidu’s entire body became enveloped in sweat. He ignored his weariness and only
concentrated on the task at hand. He was unsure exactly which parts of the ceremony were necessary, which were trappings,
which were ludicrous.... and he wasn’t going to risk leaving out any part of it -- the stakes were far too high.

He continued to the recite the 42nd Chapter of the Book of the Dead.

“Thoth shieldeth my body altogether, and I am like unto Ra everyday. None shall seize me by my arms; none shall drag me
away by my hand. I am the lord of Eternity; I feel and I have power to perceive. I come forth and I shine; I enter in and I come
to life. I shall not die again. I am the unveiled one.”

Enkidu continued through until he reached almost the very end. He looked at the others in the tomb and whispered “It is time for you to play your roles.” He handed the two other Immortals and the Watcher small scrolls of papyrus on which he’d written in hieroglyphs and English the text of the next part of the ritual.

“Duncan shall play the role of Isis, while Methos shall be Nephthys. That completes the role of the gods. Joe, I leave to you the
roles of the mortals, the sons of Osiris.”

Enkidu looked at the faces of the others and could read their collective thoughts. “I know this all sounds surreal to you... that it is almost impossible to believe.”

Joe interrupted the Old Immortal. “Hell, next to what happened back at that racetrack this is a walk in the park! I’m in,
Enkidu... if chanting silly rituals will bring us back Richie, I’ll recite ‘Alice in Wonderland’ backwards in my underwear!”

Enkidu smiled. “I think that will be unnecessary... just play your part and hope the gods, or whomever is out there, answer our
request.”

Enkidu nodded to the Scot to begin.

MacLeod began with a quivering voice which grew clearer and stronger with each passing word, as if driven by some force
inside of him. “I have come to be a protector unto thee. I waft unto thee air for thy nostrils, and the North wind, which cometh
forth from the god Tmu, unto thy nostrils. I have made whole thy lungs. I have made thee to be like unto a god. Thine enemies
have fallen beneath thy feet.”

Methos joined in on cue. “I have gone round to protect thee, brother Osiris. I have come to be a protector unto thee. My
strength shall be behind thee, my strength shall be behind thee, forever. Ra hath heard thy cry, and the gods have granted that
thou should be victorious. Thou art raised up, and thou art victorious over that which hath been done unto thee. Ptah hath
thrown down thy foes, and thou art Horus, the son of Hathor.”

Duncan continued with a strong voice. “And the flame of Isis said, I protect thee with this flame, and I drive away the foe from
the valley of thy tomb, and I drive away the sand from thy feet. I embrace Osiris who is triumphant and in right and truth.”

Methos echoed with his own clear tone. “And the flame of Nephthys said, I have come to hew in pieces. I am not hewn in
pieces, nor will I suffer thee to be hewn in pieces. I have come to do violence, but I will not let violence be done unto thee, for I
am protecting thee.”

Joe glanced down at the scroll in his shaking hands and realized it was his turn to begin. A single thought formed in his head.

<<Believe.>>

And he did. More than anything else he’d ever believed in his life, Joe believed Richie could come back to them. And he was
not going to fail his friend. “I am Mestha, thy son, O Osiris, triumphant. I have come to protect thee, and I will make thine
abode flourish everlastingly.

I am Hapi thy son, O Osiris, triumphant. I have come to protect thee. Thy head and thy limbs are knit together; and I have
smitten down thine enemies beneath thee. I have given unto thee thy head for ever and for ever, O Osiris, triumphant in peace.

I am thy son, O Osiris, triumphant. I have come to protect thee. I have collected thy bones, and I have gathered together thy
members.”

Enkidu looked with approval at the three friends and nodded slightly. “It is time.”

The Ancient Immortal looked at the Highlander with a silent face. MacLeod returned the look with a clear conscience, thinking
he knew what would happen next.... more than prepared to lose his head to bring Richie back.

But he was wrong.

Enkidu took the gold ceremonial knife and plunged it into Richie’s chest, to the left of the breastbone, up to the hilt. Joe went to
move towards his friend, but was stopped by Methos, who gave Joe a strangely comforting look. The Watcher did not struggle, but merely turned to see what Enkidu had in store next.

Enkidu took the knife out of Richie’s body with a disquieting sucking sound and plunged it into MacLeod’s chest....

Then, gently let MacLeod’s dead body fall onto Richie’s chest.

Not a word was spoken as they all watched for signs of a miracle.

The gauze on Richie’s chest was stained red by the blood pumped from MacLeod’s now-still heart. Suddenly, Methos noticed
a faint blue aura emanating from the Highlander’s body. The aura grew until it enveloped Richie as well.

Joe recognized it as the beginnings of a Quickening. His impulse was to move to a far corner of the tomb but he held fast,
watching Enkidu and Methos stare at the altar in wonder.

A wind blew up in the tomb from nowhere and flying sand began to sting their exposed skin. Joe raised a hand to cover his
eyes... before he shut them he saw the trademarked blue lightening ricocheting off the walls of the tomb, accompanied by
strange echoing sounds.

Methos felt every hair on his body stand on end as he witnessed the strangest Quickening he’s ever seen. The sparks
approached his body, and he felt Richie’s presence. He quickly sucked in his breath and unconsciously tried to direct the power towards the prone figure wrapped in gauze. As if obeying his silent command, the light focused on the dead body of the young Immortal and permeated his being.

Suddenly a brilliant flash of light blinded all in the tomb. When Methos, Joe and Enkidu opened their eyes they found MacLeod
crumpled on the ground next to the altar.

Methos ran over to the Highlander and gently shook him. “Mac... are you all right?”

MacLeod slowly opened his eyes and tried to focus them on his old friend. “Richie?”

Methos looked over at the stone silent mummy and his heart dropped into his stomach. <<We’ve failed. Damn! I hope it wasn’t a bad translation!>>

He looked at the ceiling to compose himself and then gently lifted MacLeod to his feet.

MacLeod reached for the altar and it was obvious from the look on his face that he’d expected to find Richie sitting up and
grinning at him. He looked at the corpse and tears began to run down his cheeks.

Enkidu held his breath and started cutting away the bandages. He started at the neck, because that would tell them most quickly if they’d succeeded.

Joe wanted to close his eyes, afraid of disappointment, afraid of what would happen to MacLeod... but he was riveted by what
was happening.

Enkidu gently cut the bandages near Richie’s Adam’s apple and peeled away the cotton strips...

and let out a loud gasp.

Methos, MacLeod and Joe looked over ... and could not believe what they saw...

Richie’s head was reattached to his body.

Although there was a nasty red scar at the point of separation, the wound was healing itself even as they watched.

And the first telltale signs of a buzz were faintly detected by the three standing Immortals.

Joe crossed himself and said a “Hail Mary.” Methos looked in awe at what he believed was clearly impossible and fought back
a choking tear. And MacLeod watched with anticipation, willing Richie to heal with every fiber of his being.

Enkidu gently cut away the bandages from Richie’s head and chest. Suddenly the tomb was filled with a raspy sound, almost
like fingernails dragged along a chalkboard, as Richie Ryan took the first breath of his new life.

Joe Dawson noted that it was the most awful yet the most beautiful sound he’d ever heard.

MacLeod spoke to Richie, as if to try to encourage his young friend back to the land of the living. “Rich? I know you’re in
there! Come back Richie! Please, God, come back! Fight! Fight!”

The two elder Immortals shot each other concerned looks and waited in silence for the outcome.

After what seemed like an eternity, Harpocrates, the child god, the miracle born of the dead Osiris, opened his stunning blue
eyes and reentered the land of the living........

Part 12: Harpocrates

“Hush now, don’t you cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye.
You’re lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your head.
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life.
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
The dream is over... or has it just begun?”
--”Silent Lucidity,” Queensryche

Richie lifted his head and looked around at his friends with a startled look, as if he was totally disoriented. He tried to speak but
his throat wouldn’t cooperate.

“Easy, Rich.” MacLeod said as he put a gentle hand on his young friend’s shoulder. “You’re safe now. You’ve been badly
hurt... give your body a chance to heal.”

Richie closed his eyes and laid his head back on the stone altar.

Enkidu began cutting the remaining bandages away from his body as quickly as was possible.

Joe turned to Methos with tears of joy in his eyes and found the oldest Immortal standing in the corner, a tear running down his
face, his arms tightly wrapped around himself.

“Damn beautiful sight, ain’t it!” Joe said with a smile.

Methos nodded and quickly wiped his face in embarrassment.

MacLeod stood there transfixed, staring at Richie’s face, watching the color return to his cheeks, seeing his breathing ease with
each passing moment.

Just as Enkidu started cutting the bandages off Richie’s hips, the young Immortal lifted himself up on one elbow. “Hey!” he
croaked, sounding like a toad with laryngitis. “Watch what you’re doing down there, will ya! I might need some of that later,
you know!”

Enkidu laughed at the youth. “I am sure you will.... but if I do not get these bandages off quickly, you are going to find yourself with a mighty uncomfortable itching.”

Methos reached into one of the backpacks and pulled out clean clothes for Richie. He handed them to the young Immortal as
Enkidu removed the last of the gauze.

Richie was acutely aware that he was butt naked and was laying on a cold, hard slab of stone. “You guys mind?” he said with a
blush.

His friends turned away and let him dress in relative private. It took a few minutes, as Richie found his body terribly stiff and
slow to respond... as if the connections between his brain and his body weren’t quite up to snuff.

He zipped his jeans and sat up on the altar, looking around the room. “Where the hell am I? In a museum or something?” he
asked.

“Egypt. But actually YOU should be in a museum, my young friend.” Enkidu replied.

“Or a freak show.” Methos said with a smirk.

MacLeod scowled slightly at the old Immortals and reached over to grab Richie’s shoulder. “Don’t try to stand yet, Rich.
You’ve been dead for three days -- it’s going to take a while before you’re completely healed.”

“Man! That explains why I feel like shit! So what happened? Did I have a knife stuck in me for that long?” Richie croaked.

The four older men looked at each other with funny expressions on their faces.

Joe decided he’d be the one to break the news. “Uh, Richie, you don’t understand, you were *DEAD* for three days.”

“Dead?” Richie questioned. “Like as in a two-piece chalk outline kinda dead?”

Joe nodded with a sad smile.

“Wow.” Richie said somberly. Then his sense of humor returned. “Talk about a near-death experience! Hey! I must be the first
Immortal to survive a beheading! How’d you do it? And who’s the bastard who took my head in the first place? I’ve got a few
choice words for *HIM*!”

Joe looked over at MacLeod and Enkidu.

MacLeod swallowed hard and took his hand off of Richie’s shoulder. “I took your head, Rich. Don’t you remember?”

Richie looked at him with wide, wide eyes. “YOU! C’mon, Mac, that’s not funny. Who was it? You can’t protect me from him
ya know.”

The Scot felt a tear roll down his face but made no move to wipe it away. “I’m serious, Rich. I was hallucinating... the Demon
was attacking me.... I saw visions of Horton and Kronos.... and you... taunting me.... attacking me with swords.... I turned and
saw you, and I thought it was the Demon... so I struck with my sword..... *and it was really you!*”

Those last broken words came as a sob. Richie looked over at Joe and Methos and he knew that it was true....

Richie looked back over at the distraught Highlander. “I don’t remember, Mac. The last thing I remember was calling you on
the phone, telling you that Horton had Joe..... after that it’s all fuzzy, just shadows really.... like a bad dream.”

“More like a nightmare” Methos added.

Enkidu looked over at the confused young man. “It is all right now, Richie. You were not the first Immortal to go through this
process of rebirth, but you may be the last. So do not make a habit out of losing your head, agreed?”

Richie smiled back. “Oh no problem there, old man! I don’t ever intend on doing this again!” His voice almost sounded back to
normal and he felt strong enough to stand.

He tentatively put a foot down towards the ground and then jumped down several inches until his feet touched the cool floor
stones. It felt strangely refreshing to have his feet on terra ferma again. He looked at MacLeod, who was just standing there
motionless, his guilt and angst and torment written all over his face.

Richie hated that look... he’d seen it too often.

“Mac....”

He reached over to his friend and embraced him. The Highlander enveloped his student in his arms and sobbed uncontrollably
on Richie’s shoulder.

The other three men quietly left the burial chamber to afford them some privacy.

After a few minutes MacLeod’s sobs stopped. Richie pulled away and looked his old friend in the eye.

“Mac....”

“Yeah, Rich.”

"I thought I told you never to do that again!”

MacLeod chuckled softly. “Guess I didn’t listen.”

“You never do!” Richie smirked.

MacLeod looked into those sweet blue eyes and just couldn’t vocalize what he was feeling....

But Richie knew. And he decided he could wait until later to hear the confessional.

“Mac!”

“Yeah, Richie?”

“I’m starved. Let’s get outta here. You think they have cheeseburgers in Egypt? I don’t think I could deal with Camelburgers.”

MacLeod laughed. Richie was back. There was no doubt about that.

"And what's with the bad haircut?" Richie added.

The two friends walked out of the tomb just in time to see the sun rise over the desert.

---------------------------

That night Richie slept soundly in Duncan’s bed on the barge. Although it was 3 AM, the Scot hadn’t closed his eyes -- he
hadn’t dared.... he was afraid he’d wake up to find it was all a dream and that Richie was still dead, dead by *his* hand.
Instead, he found himself sitting on the couch with a hot cup of tea alternately staring into the fire and glancing over at the
sleeping figure.

Mac got up and plunked the tea down on the coffee table a bit too loudly. Richie stirred and rolled over but was too deeply
involved in his own peculiar dreams to wake up. The Highlander softly walked over to his sleeping friend. He gently sat down
on the edge of the bed and looked at the young redhead, who was breathing so softly that he almost looked dead.

MacLeod suddenly became concerned and reached out a trembling hand to touch Richie, to see if he was real... to see if he
was truly alive...

As MacLeod’s hand gently touched Richie’s shoulder, the young Immortal murmured something in his sleep and rolled over
once again, clutching the blanket close to his chest with both hands. MacLeod stood up and smiled.

He remembered poking his head into Richie’s room in the antique store on more than one night to check on his young ward,
and finding Richie curled up in rather the same position, looking like a small child latching onto his security blanket. At the time,
the elder man had found it somewhat troubling, as if it signified all the pain and uncertainty Richie had been through in his young
mortal life.

Now as MacLeod looked down at the “son” he thought he’d lost forever, it struck him as the most beautiful thing he’d ever
seen -- and he thanked whatever God was responsible for the gift of seeing it once again.

The End

Notes:

Prologue: Since several of my beta readers asked, I will tell you straight out that yes, Enkidu’s eyes changing color when Richie
died WAS an illusion caused by the Demon. The Demon knows that Enkidu is aware of the Demon’s weakenesses.... that is
why Culbraith killed the false Methos as well. Read on, it will become much clearer!

Part 3: The song lyrics in this part are from the following sources:

“I Am the Sword” - Motorhead
“The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” - Black Sabbath
“Learning to Live” - Dream Theater

Part 4:

(1) Since Sumer, Babylonia, Akkad, and Mesopotamia are referred to in this story, I thought a brief history/geography lesson
would help. Mesopotamia is the ancient region referred to as the “fertile crescent,” the area around the Tigris and Euphrates
Rivers, now in Iraq. The oldest settlements probably date to 5000 BC. Sumer refers to the non-semitic culture in southern
Mesopotamia, while the northern part became Akkad. Babylonia refers to the united Mesopotamian empire (Sumer + Akkad)
beginning with Hammurabi (c.1750 BC) which derived much from the earlier Sumerian culture.

(2) It was brought up that according to traditional modern astrology, the Winter Solstice (December 21) falls on the cusp
between Sagittarius and Capricornus (there is no such thing as Capricorn). However, along with all the other errors they make,
modern astrologers fail to take precession into account (like Cassandra) and use the positions of the sun relative to the stars
from about 2000 years ago! If one puts in the proper precession, the sun is clearly currently in the center of Sagittarius on
December 21!

(3) The entire discussion about Sagittarius and the seasons is 100% correct. I even set our planetarium machine to simulate the
skies of 4000 BC and checked it out myself.

(4) A discussion of precession appeared in my previous story, “Gilgamesh Redeemed.”

(5) Yes, there IS a Mount Olympus outside of Seacouver! It is the highest peak (7965 ft) in the Olympic Mountains of
northwest Washington.

Part 5:

(1) A discussion of the Westcar papyrus and the legend of reattaching headless bodies can be found in Budge (1967).

(2) The funeral rites of the ancient Egyptians included the removal of major body organs such as the brain and heart and the
drying (desiccation) of the body with natrum. The purpose was to preserve the body for the later use of the soul.

Part 7:

To read more of the relevant passages from the Book of the Watchers (Book of Enoch) , refer to the Appendix of my paper
“Kronos, Ahriman, and Set - A Symbolic Interpretation of ‘Archangel’, “ at
http://honors.ccsu.ctstateu.edu/Honors/ContactProgram/Faculty/Kris.html

Part 8:

Darius II was king of the Persian empire (including Babylonia) from 424 - 404 BC. His Persian name was Daray. It was at this
time that the Zurvan heresy of Zoroastrianism (the introduction of Zurvan, Infinite Time, as father of Ahriman and Ohrmazd, and
the One which gave birth to the Duality of Good and Evil) became established in Persia, and hence influenced Babylonia.

Part 9:

(1) I was asked about the significance of the color violet for the aura surrounding Joe and Richie’s body in the battle scene.
Violet is a mixture of red (the color of the Demon) and blue (the color of the Q). It symbolizes spirituality, wisdom, and love,
and is associated with the blood of sacrifice (Biedermann, 1992). It’s also my favorite color.

(2) I was asked why Methos has such a problem with his personal Demons (i.e. Kronos)... ask yourself, has Methos really
resolved the Horsemen issue in his own mind? Or is the wound still relatively fresh and raw?

Part 11:

(1) The description of Unas’ tomb is taken from Budge (1967). There is a webpage on the tomb (with a photograph) at

http://touregypt.net/unaspyr.htm

(2) The reference to Isis shearing off a lock of her hair is real.

(3) All the lines taken from the Egyptian Book of the Dead were taken verbatim from Budge (1967).

References:

Allen, Richard Hinckley (1963) Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning (NY: Dover)

Bailey, Alice A. (1971) Esoteric Healing (NY: Lucis Pub. Co.)

Bailey, Alice A. (1979) A Treatise on Cosmic Fire (NY: Lucis Pub. Co.)

Bailey, Alice A. (1979) A Treatise on White Magic (NY: Lucis Pub. Co.)

Bailey, Alice A. (1979) Esoteric Astrology (NY: Lucis Pub. Co.)

Biedermann, Hans (1992) Dictionary of Symbolism (NY: Penguin Books)

Bloom, Harold (1996) Omens of the Millennium (NY: Riverhead Books)

Brier, Bob (1981) Ancient Egyptian Magic (NY: William Morrow & Co.)

Budge, E.A. Wallis (1959) Egyptian Religion (NY: Bell Publ. Co.)

Budge, E.A. Wallis (1967) The Egyptian Book of the Dead (NY: Dover)

Budge, E.A. Wallis (1971) Egyptian Magic (NY: Dover)

Budge, E.A. Wallis (1973) Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection (NY: Dover)

Dalley, Stephanie (1989) Myths from Mesopotamia (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press)

Evans-Wentz, W.Y. (1960) The Tibetan Book of the Dead (London: Oxford University Press)

Forsyth, Neil (1987) The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth (Princeton: Princeton University Press)

Frazier, Sir James George (1935) The Golden Bough: Adonis, Attis, Osiris Vol. II (NY: MacMillan Co.)

Gould, Stephen Jay (1997) Questioning the Millennium (NY: Harmony Books)

Graves, Robert and Raphael Patai (1983) Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis (NY: Greenwich House)

Harper, Robert Francis (1904) Assyrian and Babylonian Literature (NY: D. Appleton and Co.)

Henderson, Joseph L. and Maud Oakes (1963) The Wisdom of the Serpent (NY: George Braziller)

Howey, M. Oldfield (1955) The Encircled Serpent (NY: Arthur Richmond Co.)

Jacobsen, Thorkild (1987) The Harps That Once... Sumerian Poetry in Translation (New Haven: Yale University Press)

James, T.G.H. (1988) Ancient Egypt (Austin: University of Texas Press)

King, L.W. (1899) Babylonian Religion and Mythology (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trunber and Co.)

King, Leonard W. (1910) A History of Sumer and Akkad (NY: Frederick A. Stokes Co.)

King, Leonard W. (1915) A History of Babylon (NY: Frederick A. Stokes Co.)

Kramer, Samuel Noah (1981) History Begins at Sumer (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press)

Sparks, H.F.D.(ed.) (1984) The Apochryphal Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon)

Zaehner, R.C. (1961) The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism (NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

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