Author: Sapphiregirl

Email:

Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon, and probably never will, although I wish I did. I'm just borrowing the characters, and I'm not making any money off of this. Likewise, I don't own the poem that inspired this. The Highwayman was written by Alfred Noyles and is used without permission. Loreena Mckennitt set this poem to music, and that's where I first heard it. She's a wonderful vocalist and I would encourage you to check her music out. The Highwayman is on her 'Book of Secrets' cd. That said, this story belongs to me. It's my brainchild, so please don't plagiarize.

AN: this is my first published fan fic. Just by way of explanation, I was inspired to write this after reading a lot of Sailor Moon fan fiction and listening to Loreena McKennitt. The idea has been rattling around in my head for a while and I finally decided (and had the time) to write it down. I figured that Rei and Jadeite would be the perfect characters for it. I have left Jadeite's name unchanged, but I decided that 'Rae' (like the old-fashioned spelling of May as Mae) would be better suited to the latter 1700's than Rei.

This story is set a few years before the American Revolutionary War. It is also not for the tender-hearted, so you may need a box of Kleenex. I made Kunzite and Zoicite British officers because I couldn't think of any other names and the characters ended up fitting, oddly enough. Oh, and no offense meant to anyone who likes Chad. I just needed him to be the poor, jealous stable boy because he's the only person I can think of besides Jade that likes Rei.

Please, please email me and tell me what you thought! Now, on with the story!

The Highwayman

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The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding-
Riding-riding-
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door.

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The small inn stood well on the edge of the silent city. Once it had been the only inn within miles, but that was before the city had grown. Now it was almost part of the city, and while it couldn't boast to be the best to be had anymore, Moorland Inn was still full of travelers more often than not. This night was no exception.

The surrounding Massachusetts countryside was quiet and peaceful. Nothing stirred, except the gusty April wind in the trees. Dark clouds skidded across an otherwise starry sky and a full moon shone down through them on the sleeping land below. The roughly cobble-stoned road gleamed in the moonlight like a white ribbon in a gypsy's coal-black hair.

The sound of a horse riding over the uneven road could be heard faintly, but the wind snatched the sounds away and threw them far behind the horse and his rider. Only when the nocturnal pair reached the inn yard could one discern the rapid 'tlot, tlot' of hooves striking cobblestones and the jingle of a saddle.

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He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle; his boots were up to his thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,

His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

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The rider was a fairly well-dressed young man. He sported two pistols and a long rapier hung on his left side. His hat, tilted at a rakish angle, effectively hid his unruly blonde locks, but did nothing to disguise the roguish sparkle in his blue eyes. He rode cautiously around to the side of the inn and rapped on the shutters with his whip. No answer. Everything was locked up tight for the night and no one was awake.

Quietly, keeping a sharp lookout, he whistled a little ditty to the second window on the left side of the second floor. Still, no answer. He whistled it a little louder. It was her favorite song--surely she'd have heard him. He looked quickly around listened for a moment, and whistled the tune once again. This time, there was a noise at the window and a dark figure leaned out carefully.

"Rae!" he hissed, "What took you so long? I was starting to get worried."

Rae Marquis, the innkeeper's only child, looked down at him apologetically. "I'm sorry, Jade," she said in a low voice. "I had a long day and I...dozed off a bit while I was waiting for you." She fingered the tiny braid in her hair, a braid into which she had worked a scarlet love knot he had given her some time before.

Jadeite Le'duc saw it, saw her, saw there was no one else around, and relaxed. "It's all right, love," he said, with that bright smile that she loved," I apologize for taking so long to get here." He grinned roguishly. "I was busy tonight."

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And dark in the old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the odtler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's red-lipped daughter

Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say--

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,

I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

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"I'm sure you were!" she retorted sharply. Then she said softly, "I was worried about you. I've missed you."

"I've missed you too, darling." Jade's blue eyes looked up at her. "But after tomorrow, we won't be separated ever again," he declared.

Rae bit her lip. "I'm not sure if I can do this," she admitted. "Leave my parents with just a note saying that I've eloped? They've never met you--my mother will be frantic. And my father--" she shuddered. "He'll never forgive me."

"Love, I will always take care of you. Always." His voice was serious. "You'll never have to come crawling back to them, I promise you."

She knew he meant it and smiled. "I know you'll be a good husband, Jade. But if something were to happen to you on one of your 'outings', I don't know what I'd do." Her black eyes gleamed purple in the moonlight.

He chuckled softly. "I told you I'd give that up when we move west. There will be too much for me to do to worry about that anymore. Although..." he trailed off.

"Don't even think about it!" Rae snapped. "If you're going to marry me, you're going to have to take care of yourself. I won't have my husband flirting with death the way you do now."

"Oh, come now, Rae," he said coaxingly, but with a smile in his voice, "You know as well as I do that those redcoats will never catch me. Besides," and his voice hardened, "what I take from those blasted rich English folks is money that came from the rest of us anyway. And you know I don't keep all of it."

"I know. Just--just be careful tonight, please? I don't want to lose you, Jade."

He smiled at her in the darkness. "Of course I will."

With the wind blowing as hard as it was, neither of the two heard the slight noise from the direction of the stable. Chaddy, the gawky stable hand whose lanky brown hair was always in his eyes, leaned up against a crack in the wall, listening to this strange conversation. His eyes were wide and sad. Who was this stranger that Miss Rae seemed to know so well? And why--why did she speak as if the two were engaged?

Chaddy's heart began to break. He'd loved the fiery black-haired lass ever since he came to the inn as a twelve year old orphan in need of a place to stay and met the innkeeper's only child. He'd always hoped that if he worked hard enough, he could save up enough to marry her. And now it seemed that she was marrying someone else and soon. He blinked back sudden tears and pressed his ear harder to the wooden wall.

"May I beg a kiss, love?" Jade asked teasingly as he stared up at her. "I'll be going after a real prize tonight, and I'll need all the luck I can get. But I should be finished by dawn and I'll come for you then." He had already sequestered some of her belongings and things they would need in the wagon he had bought to take them west toward the edge of the colonies.

"Are you sure?" Rae asked skeptically. Whatever target he had in his sights sounded like it would be something the redcoats would be keeping an eye on. Tensions were high these days and it didn't take much to set the British soldiers off.

He grinned. "Well, on second thoughts, I'll try to come for you at dawn, but if I have a hard time getting away, I'll lie low for the day and meet you here tomorrow night at midnight, when the moon streams into your window. Believe me, my love, I will come for you in the moonlight, though hell itself should bar my way." Jadeite spoke the words with passion, and there was no denying the fact that he was deadly serious.

Rae smiled and blushed. "I believe you."

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He rose up in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
(oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)

Then he tugged his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.

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Rae leaned down and Jade, sweeping the hat from his head to reveal his golden hair, rose up in his stirrups. He stretched his arm as high up as it would go, but he could barely brush her fingers with his. "Well, this won't work," he grumbled.

She laughed and pulled a few pins out of her hair. She bent out the window and suddenly, Jade found a wave of black hair tumbling down on to him. He wrapped his fingers in it and breathed the sweet scent of her hair. He kissed the silky strands, his face burning with heat even though the air was cool. How he wished he could take her in his arms and never let her go.

When he was capable of speaking again, he said in a low voice, "I didn't realize your hair was this long." He looked up at her again. "I have to go now, Rae. Until tomorrow."

She nodded. "I'll be waiting. I love you, Jade."

"I love you too." With that, he tugged on the reins of his patient horse and galloped away.

Rae watched him until he was out of sight, then sighed and pulled her window closed. She went to bed and dreamed of the life they would lead in the West.

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He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor
A red-coat troop came marching-
Marching-marching-

King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door
II

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window

For Bess could see, through the casement, the road that he would ride

They tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say-

Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight

I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

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Rae was on pins and needles all the next day--edgy, forgetful, and preoccupied. Her father put it down to the tensions and rumors of war that swirled through the city, her mother put it down to nerves or the April air, and no one knew what the guests or anyone else thought.

Only Chaddy knew the truth. Only Chaddy knew why she wandered around looking at everything like she would never see it again. But he merely went at his work with a fierce intensity that somewhat surprised the innkeeper.

But Jade didn't come at dawn, nor at any other time during that day. Rae calmed down a little. She remembered that he had said he would disappear for the day if sharply pursued. Divided between relief that he was merely lying low and worry that he had been caught after all, she longed for night to come.

A troop of redcoats came first.

Late in the afternoon, toward supper-time, a company of British soldiers came marching down the road in their usual precise formation. When they stopped at the inn, Mr. Marquis nervously greeted them.

"Ah, good evening. What can I do for you--ah--gentlemen?"

"Food, drink, and a room for the night will suffice," the major in charge said briskly. He looked past the innkeeper to the inn, where Mrs. Marquis stood.

Mr. Marquis gulped. "I only have about four free rooms at the moment, sir."

The major looked at him out of steely gray eyes. "That will do."

"Yes, sir." Marquis hurried away while the recoats followed him leisurely into the dining room.

All conversation stopped when they entered. All the guests looked to their plates or to each other and did not glance at the soldiers, except to give them glances full of fear and suspicion. Mrs. Marquis bustled around pouring drinks and taking orders.

She swept back into the kitchen. "Rae! There you are. Take these plates and platters into the soldiers and be quick about it."

Rae's heart nearly jumped into her throat. Redcoats? Here? Now? She thought briefly of Jade. Resolutely, she pushed those thoughts away and carried food into the hungry soldiers.

The major glanced at her with slightly narrowed eyes as she breezed in with a large tray of food. After she had left, he looked at his second in command and nodded shortly.

Several hours later, after most of the uproar had calmed, Rae was finishing up making sure the rooms were ready when a large hand was clapped over her face. She struggled and kicked, but to no avail. Her captor easily hauled her up the stairs and to what she belatedly realized was her own room.

"Let her speak."

Rae stared in disbelief at the British major. He stood in the middle of the room with his arms crossed. The soldier removed his hand from her mouth but did not release her arms. "What is the meaning of this?" she demanded, too angry to try to scream for help.

"I have it on good authority that a--certain admirer of yours is a well known criminal," he said coldly. "A highwayman who has been plaguing the country for quite some time now."

"I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about," Rae snapped. "You have no right to hold me here. Release me at once."

The major took a step closer. "You're lying," he stated matter-of-factly. "He was here last night."

Rae's face went blank. Who could have known? No one had been around, had they? "I don't know who you're talking about. I was asleep last night."

"He was here last night, and he will be here tonight as well. Say around...oh, midnight, perhaps?" Rae blanched at this. "Ah," he continued, "so you do know him."

Knowing that she'd just given herself away, Rae stood straighter and her black eyes snapped but she said nothing.

"Answer me," the major demanded. She still said nothing. He slapped her soundly. "It's not a good idea to lie to the authorities, girl. Nor is it wise to keep silent."

Only the soldier behind her kept Rae from being knocked to the floor. She straightened slowly and glared at the major defiantly. "You'll get nothing out of me!"

He sighed. "He won't be marrying you and taking you west, you realize. He's not going to live that long."

This time, Rae was really shocked and she could not hide it. "How did you know that?" He shrugged, and something inside her snapped."HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?!" she shouted.

His eyes widened slightly at the volume of her angry voice. "Lieutenant Zoicite, tie her up and gag her."

"Where do you want to put her, sir?"

"In here of course. Can't have anyone stumbling over her." He looked around the room. "Tie her to the foot of the bed." He then supervised a couple of soldiers who knelt at her window with muskets in hand, and told a few more to do the same in the windows in other rooms.

The lieutenant and the sergeant who had captured her tied her up efficiently. "You'll have to find a new lover," Zoicite joked, looking into her stormy eyes. "I'm afraid this one's days are numbered."

"You're pretty enough," the sergeant added, running his fingers through her silky hair. "You won't have to look hard." Rae jerked her head away from his grasp. "Behave now," he told her.

"Here," the lieutenant suggested, bringing a musket over. "Let's give her an unhindered view of the proceedings."

The sergeant hauled her to her feet and pushed her against the wall. When she sagged, refusing to stand, the lieutenant used the musket to prop her up and forced her to stand at attention. The tip of the barrel fit just under her breast and his fingers lingered there a moment longer than was necessary. If Rae had been able, she would have kicked him or smacked him or both.

"Now, don't move, little one," he told her, "or you won't like what happens." She glared at him, and he laughed. He swiftly pulled her gag down and kissed her hard. She struggled against him and he increased the pressure. The others laughed. He released her and she gasped for breath.

"Hmm..." Zoicite said thoughtfully, "perhaps that is why the highwayman is coming back."

"Let me try," the sergeant said. He bent and kissed Rae's already bruised lips with even more force than the lieutenant had used before replacing the gag. "You're right." The room erupted in raucous laughter as he mockingly saluted her and said, "Keep good watch, girl."

"Enough." The major's voice slid through the noise. "Take your places."

The tears in Rae's eyes spilled over. She had never been so humiliated in her life. What right did those soldiers have to mistreat her this way? Her lips hurt. Jade never kissed me that way. Jadeite.

She suddenly remembered his words. "I will come to you in the moonlight, thought hell itself should bar the way." And he would, she knew. He would come, they would be waiting where she should have been and they would kill him. I can't let that happen! But what can I do? She looked down and her eyes fell on the musket. If I could just reach it...

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She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight

The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at last was hers!
V

The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight
Blank and bare in the moonlight;

And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain.

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It had been about nine o'clock when they tied her up and Jade wouldn't come until midnight. Rae twisted her hands behind her in an attempt to get the knots to loosen. She worked at it carefully and persistently, ignoring the fact that her wrists were raw and her fingers were slick with either sweat or blood. Whatever the wet stuff was, it helped her to shift her hands to the side a little bit.

Finally, after three hours of tortuous straining, she managed to get a finger on the trigger. The clock downstairs began to chime the hour. Midnight. Rae took a deep breath as best she could through the gag and stood straight and tall, unmoving. She could not risk them discovering she had reached the musket's trigger. It's the only way to warn him. Jade's words kept running through her mind, keeping time to beat of her heart.

tlot-tlot Had they heard it? The horse hoofs riding clear;
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!

The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up straight and still!
VII

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath.
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,

Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him with her death

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A few minutes later, although it seemed like an eternity, Rae's straining ears caught the first sound of a horse's hooves. But the silent soldiers in the room appeared to have heard nothing. There it was again. Much louder now. Couldn't they hear that?

Then the horse and its rider came around the bend and down the road. Then, did the soldiers move. They quietly looked at their guns to make sure that everything was set. The major held his hand up.

Jadeite rode nearer in the unusually frosty April air, unsuspecting of the death that awaited him. Rae watched him, taking in every detail that she could see. Her face was radiantly calm as she took one last deep breath. Her eyes widened slightly as she pressed down on the trigger. She would warn him, even if it meant her death. I love you, Jade, she whispered silently. Forgive me.

The musket blast shattered the silence of the moonlight, shattered her body, and shattered the nerves of the soldiers. Stunned and startled, they opened fire before the highwayman was quite in range. His horse had already reared at the unexpected sound and when bullets began to hit the cobble-stones around him, it did not take much to send the horse scrambling back the way they had come.

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He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till dawn he heard it, his face grew gray to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,

Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

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Jade winced as a particularly well-aimed bullet nicked his arm. What are redcoats doing at inn at this time of night? he wondered irritably. And how did they know I'd be there? It was obvious that they were waiting for him. Did Rae...? No! he dismissed that thought immediately. She would never do that to me. He spared a look back. I hope she's alright.

Major Kunzite swore violently. "Whose bright idea was it to give her a musket?!" he exploded.

Lieutenant Zoicite stepped forward. "Mine, sir."

"You idiot." The major looked down at the dead girl. She was still standing, held up partially by the blood-covered musket and the red smeared wall behind her. Blood soaked the front of her dress and dripped down her arms. She killed herself to warn him. That's loyalty. He mentally bowed to Rae's still figure. I didn't think a woman had it in her.

Zoicite's face had paled, as had every other man in the room. "My apologies, sir. I never dreamed she would do such a thing."

Major Kunzite turned on him. "No, you didn't. Get her out of here and clean the mess up. The musket is unusable. Get rid of it."

"Where do you want us to put 'er, sir?" one of the soldiers asked.

"Lay her on the bed," the major ordered. He then strode out of the room just in time to intercept the innkeeper.

"What's going on? We heard a shot." The innkeeper held his robe together and peered blearily at the tall major.

"Calm yourself. Everything is under control and will be explained in the morning."

Grumbling under his breath, the innkeeper and his wife went back to bed. Little did they know that their only daughter lay dead in a pool of her own blood.

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Jadeite rode into town and quickly tended to his horse. He then went back to his room before a strolling patrol decided to ask him why he was out. After tending to his arm, he tried to sleep, but it would not come. Images of Rae kept dancing through his mind.

Something was wrong, he was sure, but he wasn't sure what it was and he wasn't sure why he knew something was amiss. He finally dozed off and slept until dawn.

Then, not really caring if he were caught or not, he decided that after breakfast he would ride to the inn and see what was going on. Having never seen him in the daylight, surely the redcoats wouldn't recognize him. He dressed and strolled to the tavern nearby, where he bought breakfast. He caught sight of a woe begotten, mumbling figure at another table who was rapidly downing drinks. The young man was crying and muttering to himself.

Jade decided to see what the matter was. He got up and walked to the boy's table. "Don't you think it's a little early in the morning to be drinking?" he asked. "What's the matter?"

The young man looked up at him through lanky brown hair. His eyes were glazed and red from crying. Jadeite thought he recognized Chaddy, the inn's stable hand, but he wasn't sure.

"She's dead." He took another swig from his glass. "He was a'comin' to get her....to take 'er out west. And they came....and she shot 'erself." Chaddy's voice rose. "Killed 'erself to save that no-good 'ighwayman!"

Jade's blood began to run cold. How many highwaymen who were planning on going west had the British tried to capture tonight? Surely this lad wasn't talking about Rae!

"Who's dead?" he asked gently, but with a sick feeling in his stomach.

"Ah loved 'er," Chaddy was rambling on after he'd had another few swigs. "Ah loved 'er...but that 'ighwayman got to 'er first. They was goin' to run off'n'get hitched, they was. Ah know'd there was a reward on 'im. Ah told that fancy redcoat when 'e was comin'ta steal 'er away."

By now a goodly sized crowd had gathered around, listening in amazement. Jade's face was paling. He gathered his strength to listen to the rest.

Chaddy flung his empty glass down. Someone handed him another; anything to keep the story going. He downed it in one gulp. "'e said they wouldn't 'urt 'er. Said they'd just keep her until 'e was dead. They was waitin' for 'im, they was. But she shot 'erself to warn 'im." Chaddy's voice broke.

"She shot 'erself and 'e took off like a bloody coward!" He buried his face in his arms and wept like a child. "Ah saw 'er." His words were hard to make out, but Jade heard him cry, "Rae... Rae....Ah loved yu..."

His face as pale as death, Jade extricated himself from the somber crowd. He tossed enough money to cover his bill into the hands of a surprised innkeeper and saddled up his horse. He took off at a dead run.

His heart was numb. Rae, the light of his life, the fiery woman who held his heart, was dead. Dead by her own hand to save him. And he hadn't even known.

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Back he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine red was his velvet coat
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway

And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

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Jade rode his horse as hard as he could, his anger mounting at each step taken. They had tied her up! Tied her up with a musket beside her and she had used it to kill herself! To warn him. I don't deserve it! You shouldn't have done that for me, Rae! his heart cried.

By the time he was within sight of the inn,the blonde highwaymanwas in a towering rage that only intensified when he saw the still figure that the redcoats were laying on the ground. Jadeite shrieked a wild curse to the blue sky and drew his sword. He didn't even think about his pistols, he was so hell-bent on making them pay.. He tore toward the red-coated soldiers at such a pace that the cobble-stoned road seemed to smoke behind him.

"Major, look!" one of the soldiers called. "Rider approaching--at a bloody fast rate too."

The major glanced at the rider. They had just brought the dead girl's body outside to bury it and the sight seemed to inflame the rider even more. That and the look of pure rage on his face sufficed to tell Major Kunzite who he was.

"Get your muskets ready, men. That's the highwayman."

They did so and watched in amazement as the oncoming rider drew a rapier and brandished it high above his head. Zoicite gulped. He had never, ever, in all his years seen a man so angry. He looked down at the corpse at his feet. Her eyes were closed, but the ghost of a smile was still on her face. He shuddered.

"Fire at will," the major ordered. He stood back to watch.

The first volley of shots flew toward the raging Jadeite. His blue eyes blazed as his hat was taken off, leaving his blonde hair to wave wildly in the wind. Most of the shots missed, but one tore into his shoulder. He didn't seem to notice. Or care. His spurs glinted in the sun as he urged his horse on.

Slightly fearful now, the soldiers reloaded quickly and fired again. He was coming much too close for their comfort. The many shots took down his horse, which neighed loudly before falling dead, and he fell with it. Then he was up again, impossibly, coming toward them, rapier extended. He was bleeding from several wounds now but he staggered on, calling down curses on them in more languages than they understood.

The soldiers fired again. And again. And again. They fired until Jade's body was covered with blood from his wounds. Until his coat was wine red from the blood. Until he stopped coming after them. Until he stopped moving. Even then, they continued to shoot at his still, bloody figure until the major held his hand up.

"Enough."

Abashed, the soldiers lowered their guns. Then, fascinated, they stared at the man they had literally shot full of holes.

Jade lay in the dirt on the road in a pool of his own blood. His breathing was labored and harsh. His life was pouring out of him rapidly, yet only now did he feel the slightest twinge of pain. Darkness was beginning to tinge the edge of his blurred sight.

As a wave of pain swept over him, taking him tantalizingly close to the black oblivion of unconsciousness, Jade saw Rae. She stood before him, a smile on her lovely face. Her hands were outstretched, reaching for his. Her face was the last thing he saw as he breathed his last.

Zoicite stared dubiously at the highwayman's still form. He poked him, none too gently with the toe of his scuffed boots. "I think he's dead, sir." He knelt, trying to avoid the huge pool of blood, and examined Jade's body. He looked up. "Definitely dead, sir. What should we do with him?"

Major Kunzite stared down at the highwayman with narrowed eyes, then back at the dead girl. "Bury him in the field. The wench's parents will take care of her body no doubt."

Ever after, the soldiers who had been present that day could not recall what happened without shuddering. The sight of Rae's bloody form and the wild look in Jade's eyes as he bore down on them haunted them for the rest of their lives.

For a short time after the deaths, the inn saw brisk business. Mostly due to the scandal the events had generated. After all, it wasn't every day that something like this happened. But as time passed, the inn was said to be haunted with the ghosts of the ill-fated couple and thus avoided. The innkeeper and his grieving wife left to make a new home elsewhere.

The inn was abandoned. During the course of the Revolutionary War, it was taken over by the British and used as a command post. They didn't use it very long. After the first two nights, none of the soldiers would stay there. Threats, cajoling, rewards, and finally several executions did nothing. The soldiers would not, could not stay there. They departed and no one ever tried to use the inn again.

But in years afterwards, anyone strolling around at midnight when the moon was full could see two ghostly figures at the inn. A longhaired girl at the window, and a tall young man in outdated clothing who rode up to the inn on a horse.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

And still on a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding-
Riding-riding

A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard
And he taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

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Sooo...what'd you think? I know, it's kinda depressing. And yes, I know there is a lot of blood. But that's what the poem said. ::shrugs:: Anyway, please review.

Written April 2002, revised December 27, 2004.