That night, I dreamed once more. The dream went on and on... I could see the sand... I could feel the quickening.
I saw Anubis and Shesmu... I saw myself and Pierre...
I saw River... and another woman...
My eyes snapped open to see River in front of me, looking at me.
"Bad dreams?", she asked.
"I don't know. I can't remember."
She leaned over and kissed me. As I put my arms around her, I could feel my fear draining away. River... and another woman...
"You knew her." I said, when our lips finally came apart.
"Pierre's mentor. You knew her."
She looked down for a moment, then her eyes found mine once more. "Yes. She was my aunt."
"How old was she?"
"I don't know. But somehow she and uncle Forrest fell in love. She was here with him. She met my uncle through Pierre."
I was wrong. Pierre hadn't been in love with her... Pierre had simply lover her as he would his mother.
"How long were the two of them together?", I asked.
She shrugged. "I don't know. I grew up calling her my aunt. When he started to show his age, and she still looked twenty five, I finally asked the big question. That's how I found out about immortals."
"Was she strong?"
"Physically? I don't know. I never saw her fight. But I know what she was like. She was definately a fighter. She wouldn't give up until it was over."
"Most immortals develope that attitude over their first hundred years or so."
"Why haven't you?"
That caught me off guard. I always assumed that my overcautious attitude was what kept me alive for so long. So many other immortals are too willing to fight... and therefore end up losing their head that much sooner. Even the strongest immortal has to weigh chance into the equation every time he or she fights. Since I rarely fight, chance has less of a hold on my life.
"I don't know."
The next two days, Forrest and Pierre did their normal duties. Pierre was still nursing the ugly wound I gave him in practice, so we thought it best to hold off any more practice until it healed. River and I had free reign of the museum and the digsite.
When no one else was in earshot, I told River many things about the museum displays that archaeologists didn't know. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find out exactly how much River knew about ancient Egypt. In some ways she knew more than I did.
One thing that I found particularly annoying was that she understood a pidgen of heiroglyphics.
I can't even read heiroglyphics.
As we walked, we came to a display on mummification. I stared uneasily at another life-sized statue of Anubis when a sudden flash came to me.
Anubis might not be as old as we thought he was. According to the manuscripts from the digsite, he was thought to be at least five thousand years old, probably much older.
But what's to say that Anubis hadn't been killed a thousand years ago... and the one who killed him, like me, had been a young immortal, and simply lucky enough to deliver a killing blow.
An immortal's first kill is usually the worst. It is disorienting... often painful. And it adds a small whisper of that immortal, and all of that immortal's victims, into your head.
A young immortal could have killed Anubis thousands of years ago... then simply become him.
This could work to our advantage. He won't be as powerful as a five thousand year old immortal would be. He won't be as fast, or as strong, or as sensitive as a five thousand year old immortal would be.
In fact, he had to have died several times. There is no way an immortal can live through five thousands years of regular conflict. The odds against that kind of survival are astronomical.
For the first time since I arrived in Egypt, my outside mask of bravery finally matched my inner emotion.
When we were in private, I told River my theory. Although she probably wouldn't be able to help any when the fight came, I wanted her to know what was going on. Besides, Pierre would probably be able to pick up on her mood, and therefore his would be bolstered as well.
She lit up, of course. "That's good, then isn't it. He's not that powerful."
I smiled back at her. "Now, don't jump to conclusions. He is very powerful. But he just isn't as powerful as a five thousand year old immortal would be, that's all."
She smiled right back at me. "But it's something."
We walked in silence for a bit while she chewed on this piece of new information. At the time, we were outside the museum, walking around the block, just looking. We were fairly bored.
"Do you still feel your first kill?"
Once again, she managed to catch my by surprise. "No. I'm more than two thousand years old."
"But I still remember him."
I didn't take a single head during my entire first two lifespans. My first, in Egypt, of course, I knew nothing about my immortality. My second, in persia with Asharu, I lived in relative peace. She and I lived together... she grew old...
When she died I ran away. From her. From myself. From Egypt.
In my wake I left a path of self-destruction. Everyone remember the young man who screamed and fought everyone who crossed his path.
I'm sure I killed people. I was mad. Mad for the loss of my love. Mad for the neverending life that would not let me go.
Another immortal followed the tale of the crazy young fair-haired man. He finally found me, and we fought.
He was not 'good' as most would think of a hero as 'good'. Nor was he evil.
He was simply an immortal, looking for an immortal that he could kill with impunity. No one cared about me. He could take my head and feel no regret.
But I took his.
The quickening threw sand around me. The lightning flashed. The sky caved in, and the stars themselves bathed me in cold fire.
Then it was over. The madness was gone. I kept travelling east, away from death. I was still afraid. I was still angry.
But I was sane.
A psychiatrist would have a field day trying to examine me.
I didn't tell River all of the story. I just told her the basics. I could not tell her of my madness... of my anger.
That was another lifetime. That was a hundred lifetimes ago.
That wasn't the same man she cared for. Now I was the one fighting for good... for justice. Fighting the demons that had slain a hundred innocent.
As I had fought the demon inside me... the demon who had slain a dozen innocent.
Why was I willing to fight alongside these people? I owed them nothing. They showed me the same friendship I had shown them... but normally at the first sign of danger, I will run. It's only logical, isn't it?
Was it friendship that kept me with them? Love? Or perhaps the simple need for closure.
Anubis had to die.
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