Note: Once again, Solid Shark gives the Dragoon Swordsman a chance to post. As has been explained previously, Solid Shark is my brother, so he lets me post in this manner, do to my lack of a separate internet account. Oh, yes, the usual disclaimers apply.
I watched the headless body of my opponent slump to the ground and braced myself. Within seconds I was struck by the influx of power and strength that we call the Quickening. The effect was intense, jerking me around like a berserk marionette. The usual lightning played about, scorching everything within twenty feet. It was over almost before I knew it, and I collapsed, exhausted.
I don't know how long it was before I felt a sword at my throat. "What was that?"
The voice was cold, definitely female. I slowly came to my feet and turned around. "Why do you care?"
The dark-haired woman was unmoved. "Something like that doesn't happen without reason. I want to know what it was, and whether it will cause additional problems for the world."
I sighed. "Fine. I'll tell you, but…" Faster than she could react, I had my katana at her throat. "You have to promise to keep it secret."
The woman nodded, ignoring the blade. "Very well."
"Alright." I made a small cut on my arm, then held it up so she could see it heal. "I am immortal. I cannot die, unless you take my head. We are not from this world, as you probably noticed."
"I thought as much."
"Anyway, we have been walking our world since the dawn of humanity. We have no knowledge of our origins; we simply are." I shook my head. "Many of us believe in an event called the Gathering, where we will feel an irresistible pull to a faraway land, to fight for the Prize." I snorted. "'In the end, there can be only one'. What a crock."
The mysterious warrior raised an eyebrow. "I take it that you don't believe it?"
I shook my head again. "No, and I'm not the only one. The oldest of our kind, a man named Methos, doesn't believe it, either. More of us are born all the time, after death, as it were. You see, our immortality can only be triggered by a mortal death. In my case, I was knifed in a back alley, woke up in a morgue, scared the living daylights out of the staff, then decided that I'd better vanish." I slapped my forehead. "Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Raymond Belmont, Ray to my friends."
The woman shook my hand cautiously. "Rose. Now, what was the lightning about?"
I laughed without humor. "When one Immortal destroys another, he absorbs the loser's power, in a process that we call the Quickening. The lightning is a side effect. Quite a jolt, that."
"So I saw."
I smiled. "Now it's my turn for questions. Where in blazes am I?"
Rose shrugged. "This world is known as Endiness. Long ago, it was ruled by the ancient Winglies, a race with great magical power." She hesitated. "I don't know why, but I believe I can trust you with my own story. Will you keep it secret?"
I nodded. "We Immortals are good at that."
"Thank you." She continued her story. "Eleven thousand years ago, humans rose in rebellion against the domination of the Winglies. The leader was a man named Emperor Diaz. At the head of his forces were seven Dragoons, of Dragon Knights, who had the power to rule Dragons. I was one of those seven. We were sometimes known as the incarnation of Dragons, because of our magic armor. That armor gave us the ability to fly and cast spells, each of us representing one of seven elemental powers. Our leader was Zieg Feld, the Dragoon of Fire, and my fiancée." Rose stumbled slightly but went on, "Next was Syuveil, the Dragoon of Wind. He was a scholarly man, always poring over ancient manuscripts, seeking the meaning of life and death. Kanzas, the Dragoon of Thunder, was just the opposite. He lived to kill. I didn't like him."
I winced. "He sounds like some nasty Immortals my teacher told me about."
"Then there was Belzac, the Dragoon of Earth. He was one of the few humans who could match a Giganto for size and strength, but he was a kind man for all that, and he loved children. The Dragoon of Light, Shirley, loved him to the end. Last was Damia, the Dragoon of Water. She was much younger than the rest of us, about fifteen, but being half human and half mermaid, she had a special power."
"And you?" I asked.
Rose looked away. "I am the Dragoon of Darkness, the only surviving Dragoon. With the help of some Winglies who sided with us, led by Charle Frahma, we were able to fight our way to the Wingly capital Kadessa, where the final battle was fought. Damia and Syuveil were killed early on, and Kanzas sacrificed himself to destroy a Super Virage. Belzac died shielding Shirley from a Virage, but she perished shortly thereafter, crushed by a falling roof. Zieg…Zieg fought one-on-one with Melbu Frahma, younger brother of Charle. Zieg won, but Melbu's final blow turned him to stone. I escaped after that."
"But that wasn't the end," I said gently.
She shook her head. "I learned of a prophecy, tragically misleading. 'Count 108 years, and when the Moon That Never Sets glows red, a Moon Child descends upon the earth, to fill the world with holy bliss.' The Moon Child is actually the soul of the Virage Embryo, the God of Destruction. If it reaches the Moon, this world will end. Charle gave me a magic choker, which stopped me from aging, and I set out to kill the Moon Child every 108 years. Those around it must also die, or they will become nothing more than mindless slaves. For that act I became known as the Black Monster, a demon who rebels against and devours the gods."
I digested all this. "I believe you, Rose. Very few could have done as well as you have. Now, I need to get moving. Perhaps we will meet again."
Rose seemed to consider this. "Perhaps we will." She left, and I wandered into the forest.
Three days later, I was strolling through the prairie northwest of the village of Seles, when I felt the familiar Buzz. Oh, great, there's another Immortal nearby. Is there something funneling our kind to Endiness? I drew my blade. "I am Raymond Belmont. Show yourself."
A tall, swarthy-looking man stepped from behind a tree, holding an ugly kris style blade. "I am Ishmael bin Shakr," he said in an Arab accent. Bin Shakr lifted his sword. "I am here for your head."
I smirked. "I was trained by Duncan MacLeod," I replied coolly. "You have your work cut out for you." MacLeod had introduced me to his Watcher friend Joe Dawson when I began my training. Dawson had mentioned this bin Shakr.
"He's an Arab with an attitude problem, and despite being a hundred and fifty years old, he's not that good," Joe had said. "He shouldn't give you much trouble if you run into him."
Without further comment, the Arab charged, swinging his weapon in a very clumsy manner. I parried with contemptuous ease, slashing bin Shakr's arm in the process. "You'll have to do better than that."
With a roar, he charged again, this time aiming for my legs. I jumped the blade and kicked him in the back as he fell past. "Come on, Ishmael, I'm not even breaking a sweat. Are you tired already?"
The deranged Arab attacked yet again, crossing his sword with mine just an inch from my face. "Who's laughing now, boy?"
"I am." I slammed my knee into his groin, then spun in a horizontal arc, taking his head off. "Goodbye, amateur."
The Quickening brought me to my knees, set several trees on fire, and sent a sizable portion of the local wildlife running in terror. I couldn't blame them; an electrical storm next to a headless corpse isn't something that happens every day.
Recovering, I got to my feet and resumed the journey. Even after taking down an Immortal, I still had the strength to deal with any monsters that crossed my path. This was fortunate, since the prairies weren't the safest place in the world.
As it turned out, the prairie was just the first of many headaches. I soon came to the Limestone Cave, a massive place that looked more than a little ominous. The monsters proved more dangerous, and definitely more numerous. What kind of world is this anyway!?
I didn't meet anyone else until I neared the end of the cave. There, I saw three warriors up ahead. The leader was a blond-haired swordsman, dressed in red armor. Next to him was a blond-haired knight type with silver and green armor and a long spear. Last was a brown-haired girl in brown and white, a bow and arrow at the ready. They didn't notice me, being occupied battling a giant worm/snake thing. I decided to lend a hand.
"Here I go!" With a shout, I ran forward, leaping into the air and slashing my blade though the creature's flesh. The others didn't even stop to gape at me; instead, the two close-in fighters added their own attacks to mine, while the archer fired arrow after arrow. As giant monsters went, this one wasn't too tough, and it went down fast and hard.
At least, we thought it went down. The creature suddenly reared up again and attacked the girl, but a strange light came from her forehead completely destroying her attacker. What in blazes was that!? One moment she's under attack, the next, bang! No more monster.
They finally seemed to notice me. "We're grateful for your help, but who are you?" the red swordsman asked.
I sighed. "My name is Raymond Belmont. I'm a man from another world. I know," I said, seeing the astonished looks on their faces, "it's hard to believe, but it is true. I don't know how I got here, but it looks like I'll have work to do."
They relaxed. "I'm Dart. Dart Feld," the swordsman said. "This is Shana, from the village of Seles, and Lavitz Slambert, head of the First Knighthood of the Kingdom of Basil."
"What exactly is going on here?" I asked, puzzled.
Lavitz explained. "Twenty years ago, King Carlo of Serdio was murdered by Doel, his younger brother, who wanted the throne. This act divided Serdio into two. The Kingdom of Basil is ruled by the rightful heir, King Albert, Carlo's son. Doel now rules the Empire of Sandora. Several days ago, my Knighthood was destroyed, and I was taken to Hellena Prison. That is where I met Dart and Shana."
"Shana had been kidnapped when the Sandorans attacked Seles," Dart said. "I went there to rescue her, and wound up helping Lavitz defeat some guards. Then we escaped with Shana, and now we're on our way to Bale, the capital of Basil, to see King Albert."
"Do you mind if I come with you?" I asked. "I'm rather out of my depth here, and I don't know anyone." Not precisely true, but I wasn't about to mention Rose.
"Of course. You're welcome to come along," Dart responded. Lavitz and Shana nodded agreement.
"Thanks. Let's go."
Author's Note: Short first chapter, but it's basically a setup for future events. This is A.U. both for LOD and Highlander; it's set just after the start of Highlander's fourth season, with one change: Darius is still alive. Sorry if Rose is a little out of character, but I figured that witnessing a Quickening would rattle even her. Please read and review. D.S.