Peace at Last
Niebos, Greece, 2003
Eleanor leaned against the wall and slowly wiped one stray tear away. If she were honest with herself, truly honest... then she had to close this book and move on as Aja had whispered to her many times over the years. Yes, it was time to move on. Darius had been so much a part of her life for so long. While she still felt lost without his comforting presence, she had to move on and make a new life for herself.
She took a deep ragged breath and smiled at the memory of that first meeting. Even then, he had seemed to have all the answers she would ever need. Until now... she had been unable to properly grieve for him. Until now... she hadn't really been able to accept his loss and move on. Had she clung to Derrick for the last few years trying to see in him something of that which was lost?
Behind her she sensed one of her friends, and by the even measured tread she heard, knew it was Methos.
"Are you all right out here?" he murmured, coming up to stand next to her.
"I'm fine... really," she looked at his concerned expression and smiled, nodding her head gently. "For the first time in ten years... I really do think I'm fine." She reached up to brush away an imaginary piece of lint from his immaculate shirt. Her eyes took in his clothes... blue silk shirt, khaki trousers, and then she saw the black overnight bag over his shoulder. "You're leaving then." It was a statement... not a question.
"On the morning ferry, " he nodded and shifted the bag slightly; a slight teasing smile played on his lips... "I could stay awhile and take the afternoon one, if you like."
"No... I don't think so. Not today anyway. Why the hurry 'tho? Pressing engagement?" she laughed, comfortable at last in their friendly banter. Perhaps they could get together another time... another place.
He chuckled, "Well my Watchers go a little paranoid when I vanish on them for a few days. I need to get back before they put out a 'World-wide Alert'." They both laughed... it felt good to really laugh again.
"Walk with me down to the wharf." He held out his hand. Eleanor put her small one into his large one and swinging hands they walked down the main street to the docks. It really was a beautiful day. Above them the blazing morning sun shown in a sky so blue it seemed made of some plastic toy. Before them... the Aegean Sea was it's calm turquoise. In the distance, Eleanor could make out the distant shape of the ferry.
About them, the villagers called greetings to the immortal couple, and the children ran up and down the street, as all children sometimes do, totally oblivious of the grownups in their world. Laughter surrounded them.
Once they reached the docks, they stood quietly holding that one hand as they watched the ferry's approach.
"Are you staying?" Methos finally asked her.
She nodded, "At least for a while. I've been so much on the run for the past thirty odd years and especially the last ten that I need to be in one place for a time. I need time to just be."
"As with all living things."
"You know..." she looked up at him and smiled warmly, "we never did get to our game this time."
"And that reminds me..." Methos dropped her hand and reached deftly into his shirt pocket to pull out a small drawstring bag. He opened it and dropped the rune stone into his palm. "I want you to have this," he said and placed it into her hand and closed her fingers about it. "I think Darius would want you to keep it."
Eleanor closed her eyes, for the tears were brimming in them again. She sniffed and shuddered slightly. "Until next time...?"
"No... for all time." Methos replied gently.
Eleanor smiled and shook her head. "I suppose you and Phillip..."
"I didn't ask Phillip... but I have no doubt he'd agree. Carlo's death has greatly changed him." Methos continued to hold her hand, gently caressing it with his thumb.
Eleanor shook her head as if to wipe away cobwebs of memory. "So what will we use next time... in a hundred or so years."
Methos laughed over the sound of the ferry's siren as it approached the wharf. "Who is to say any of us will still be here in a hundred years. 'The times they are a changin'!" he quoted Bob Dylan and dropped her hand to give her a one armed hug as they watched the ferry maneuver.
"Actually..." Eleanor began, "the last time I had this I thought about putting it into a setting and wearing it as a necklace. Then I figured you guys would be mortified."
"That is an excellent idea... in fact..." Methos dug deeply into his pants pocket and pulled something out. He held his fist out to her and smiled. "I want you to have this as well."
Eleanor shook her head. "No... not that... I can't take..."
"Please Eleanor." Methos looked at her soberly and continued gently. "Melt it down and have the setting for the rune stone made from it. That way... you will always have a piece of both of us with you."
Eleanor lifted her other hand and he dropped her wedding ring into her palm. She stared at it for a moment. It was bigger and heavier than she remembered... but it had been almost twelve hundred years since she had even touched it. Carefully she placed the ring into the same hand with the rune stone and gently caressed them both. She smiled... and closed them in a fist that she lifted to her heart.
"Always... and forever... I will treasure these and miss you both..."
Methos leaned down to gently kiss the top of her head, and then he shifted his bag on his shoulder and walked up the gangway to board the waiting ferry. When he reached the rail, he lifted one arm in a long wave. The ferry's siren sounded out a long blast as it got under way.
Eleanor remained standing on the wharf and stared at the departing boat for as long as she could make out his form at the rail. Then she remained until even the ferry had vanished into the distant haze. Behind her she sensed Phillip.
"So he's gone like the wind," Phillip commented and chuckled. "And I like the earth remain."
"And I like the waters of the ocean shall ebb and flow." Eleanor shook her head smiling as Phillip hung one of his arms about her shoulder.
"No... Danae... I mean Aja... was the ocean... you are the light of our lives and always have been. You make our hearts to sing and our souls to dance." He hugged her tightly. "You are way too thin... come along... I've made breakfast... all your favorites... scones, fresh fruit... hot chocolate, I'll even cook up one of my famous omelets if you wish." She laughed with him, and then the immortals made their way back to the villa and home.
"In your heart, in your soul
May you find peace at last."
~from "Full Circle", music and lyrics by Loreena McKennitt
Despite the Memento feel of this piece, the structure was actually inspired by a comic book I recall from many years ago. In it, Scotty of Star Trek receives word of the death of an old lover and the story plays out as this one does in two directions. The story of what he does and where he goes after hearing of her death plays out in forward time; his memories and the story of what they had been to one another plays out in reverse time. I always thought that this was a remarkable way to tell a story, but never found quite the right vehicle to try one written in this manner.
When I decided to write the story of Eleanor and Darius, I was faced with a series of vignettes and interactions that led no where. Every story, for it to be a story, requires plot. That is, rising action, a complication, and a resolution. Finally, I recalled this structure and the story began to fall into place.
There were many more vignettes I could have chosen, but decided to choose several that would amplify and take Eleanor through the five stages of grief as first described by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Those five stages are (1.) Denial, (2.) Anger or Resentment, (3.) Bargaining or Guilt, (4.) Depression or Letting Go and finally, (5.) Acceptance. Those stages are in some ways reflected in the path of her memories. Additional information on grief can be located in many books, articles, and on the web.
The task Eleanor has at hand in her visit to Niebos and the journey up the mountain and down to the cove and home illustrates the tasks she has to accomplish in order to move on with her life. She must (1.) Accept the Reality of her loss, (2.) Experience the Pain, (3.) Adjust her Life accordingly, (4.) Assume Responsibility for it, and finally (5.) Focus on New Life.
Before anyone asks if I have recently experienced some great grief, the answer is no. My family and circle of friends are intact and well and there are no great un-resolved traumas in my life. I simply wanted to use this motif as an exercise. I do admit to it being quite cathartic, however.
The island of Niebos and the Oracle of Poseidon are my own invention. They exist on no map except the map of fantasy that is the true map of our world. Readers will also note that this story ties up a few of the dangling threads from "Crossroads of Time".
I hope I have not stepped on anyone's toes with my portrait of Darius, the immortal priest and holy man who sacrificed his life in an attempt to bring peace to the world of Highlander. I dedicate this to the late Werner Stocker who gave the character life and who left us much too soon. I recall reading that he died before learning that his last roll had inspired many Highlander fans. From what I gather, it still does.
Construction began on the cathedral of Notre Dame in 1163. Work continued on it until about 1250 when it was essentially complete. Guildsmen, craftsmen, and laborers all contributed to its construction as a testament of their faith.
Darius' church is never identified by name within the series (other than being mentioned as St. Joseph's Chapel once) but is the medieval church St. Julien le-Pauvre which was built circa 1170 and is one of the oldest churches still standing in Paris. Near it was supposed to have been a holy well with healing waters, the location of which is unknown. The church was built near the old gates of the original Paris that was situated on the Isle de la Cite' and across the river Seine from Notre Dame. In the fifth century, the Isle de la Cite was the only part of Paris surrounded by a wall. Fans may recall that it was at the gates of Paris that Darius met the ancient Holy Man whose quickening changed him forever. For additional information on the church, see the website called "The Book of Darius" to which several board members pointed me when I asked some questions about the church and about Darius.
The Black Death, a.k.a. the bubonic plague, hit Europe in 1347 with a vengeance that wiped out fully one third of the population. The people at that time believed variously that it was a punishment sent by God or that it was sent by the Devil to test their faith. They lashed out at the Jewish population in many areas, believing they had poisoned wells and were spreading the plague. People also began killing off dogs and cats, fearing they were the culprits. Unfortunately, this only made the plague worse. It was a disease that was spread by the fleas that infested rats and humans. Without dogs and cats to keep them in check, the rats' numbers multiplied and the plague persisted.
The Black Death began as black swellings in the lymph regions of the body, which were extremely contagious if others touched open or weeping sores. Later it sometimes became airborne as pneumonic plague. In this form it traveled on the breath of the infected to their caregivers. From that form of the illness, almost no one survived. I have long wondered what it might have been like to have been an immortal, immune to the effects of disease and forced to observe the horrors of it, unable to do more than offer comfort. That chapter was my attempt to put into words the helplessness we all feel when faced with events we cannot change.
The 1634 flashback and modern references to Alexander Dumas' "Three Musketeers" are a minor in-joke of mine on the idea that maybe, just maybe... some of the immortals' wild adventures at that time became part of culture in that world and inspired Dumas. Perhaps he too knew Darius?
The same can be said of Victor Hugo and the references to "Les Miserables" which was published in 1862 and was an instant run-away best seller! Chalk it up to literary license and Darius telling tales to teach points. Obviously the barricade sequence as well as the sewer sequence were inspired by Hugo's book. As for the throwaway line in the 1862 section about a "young poet"... well that, as they say... is another story.
The French Revolution began in 1789 with the storming of the Bastille but by 1794, the new government led by Robespierre had fallen victim to its excesses. A new government was set up after Robespierre's execution on the guillotine to which he had sent so many others. By 1799, a general called Napoleon assumed control. His reign finally ended in 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo when Darius met Duncan MacLeod.
The 1832 street insurrections spoken of in "Les Miserables" happened. They are the hook for that portion of the story. Students, wanting to change a system that they thought was unfair to the poor, started the revolt hoping the populace would rise up once more and overthrow a corrupt government. They didn't... and many of the students and their followers died.
The story of the disaster at sea of the ocean liner "Titanic" is well known. The ship sank in less than two hours on 12 April 1912 after hitting an iceberg. Of the over 2000 people aboard, 1523 died, and 705 were saved. The disaster served to change maritime law and make it mandatory to answer and respond to a mayday or SOS.
The French government capitulated to the Germans in 1940, Paris was also surrendered to occupation at that time, and remained in their hands until liberated by the Allied Forces in 1944. Rumors of Hitler's "Final Solution" were known in Europe, but not generally. French Resistance did help some Jewish children to hide in plain sight under the noses of the Nazi's. Others were smuggled to Switzerland and other areas thought to have been safe. After the war, many of the survivors migrated to Palestine, which was partitioned in 1948 by the United Nations to create the state of Israel. War followed that partition. Even today, violence still rocks that land.
In 1964, the U.S. Congress approved funding to support a war in South East Asia in a place called Vietnam. This was previously a French colony from 1867 until 1954. Most of France's colonies about the world gained independence in 1960.
In 1992, a long-standing and rather brutal civil war broke out once more in Angola. The conflict originally began in the 1970's and continues even today. It was part tribal warfare and part an ideological war between Marxist and democratic led coalitions.
Anyone wishing additional information about these historical references should check out their nearest library or do web research. I do not pretend to know everything and I am certain I have some things wrong. If so, please let me know... French history was never my strong point. But Darius lived in Paris, so it was in Paris that most of the flashbacks had to be set.
Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did finally sharing this tale with someone.