Highlander: The Shattered Soul
It's a prophecy of long ago
It's a blueprint for the journey home
And we're writing as we stumble on
Making history to build upon
~from Shaping Space by Kevin Max
The following story is a sequel to The Pilgrim Heart and opens immediately following the conclusion of that story which can also be found on this site.
One confrontation that was originally planned as a part of that story was removed in the editing stage and re-worked so that the relationships between those involved could be better explored. This change opened up the story so that additional characters, both canon and original, could be involved. A flashback originally planned for that story was substantially re-written and developed more fully so that it is now a major element of this story.
Highlander, the concept of Immortals and Watchers, and all canon characters appearing in this story or mentioned in passing are the property of Davis/Panzer. All others are original with me. This story is not for profit... but it is for enjoyment.
While I have tried to fill in back-story and summarize what has gone before in this story cycle, I apologize in advance if I have failed to do so. I tried to make it possible to read this story without reading the others, but I don't recommend it. As before, there may be plot threads that get dropped, but will re-surface as the cycle continues. Nothing is in this story that is unimportant. All things lead to the final answers.
Readers wanted more Aja... they will get that in this story as her past, her plans, and her death are all a part of this tale. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to your comments.
Paris 455 c.e.
Darius moved among the peasants of the Isle de Paris with a purpose in this life he had never known before. All life is inter-connected. All creation came from a single thought and only when all life understands this... can peace be achieved. The thoughts were echoes of the Ancient whose Quickening he had taken. The old one's life had flashed before his eyes as he had taken him... and in that flash... the world Darius had known had changed for him. Power is a useless vanity. Only by serving others can we achieve the end result. Killing brings only an empty soul. Only by sacrifice can we be filled and achieve unity.
His hands, which had once held only a sword to slay others... now, sought to heal. He also worked at hard labor beside those he served and he had begun to study and learn all that he could. He listened to the holy men who wandered the land... hearing in their words much of what the Ancient's memories also whispered. Finding in their words... a possible future for himself.
Within him... the Ancient whispered that the only real power immortals have... the only limit to their existence... was their love... or lack thereof. Love yourself and therefore love those about you. They are all reflections of who you are. If you hate... if you maim... if you kill... then it is only you that will be lost for all time. See the path... follow the way... all roads will lead to the source.
Darius felt the immortal long before he saw anyone. He'd been working with laborers on a ditch to help control run-off and sewage when the harsh rumbling of a thousand voices keening on the wind filled his head, momentarily stunning him. Finally, he straightened and looked about. He saw only the other workers... no stranger stood anywhere near... staring at him. He handed his adze to another and grasped the sword he had not quite given up... buckled it about him and wandered through the mud streets seeking the presence.
Near the gates... at the holy spring where he'd buried the Ancient's ashes he saw a hooded figure... sitting on the pile of stones over which the water bubbled. This was the immortal. "Old," he thought, "very old... and very powerful." Cautiously he approached.
One hand with long slender fingers raised and pulled the hood from a head of dark hair... shot throughout with locks of silver and tied back loosely. Two green eyes peered out from a smiling face he remembered from his long ago childhood.
"I might have known," Darius murmured aloud. "Anya."
"Was that the name I used then?" Her voice was rich and throaty... deep like the feel of her presence... rich as honey... sharp as the sword he carried. "I've used so many... I seldom recall them. But for you, my little warrior... I will be Anya if you wish." Her face reflected an age-old amusement... but there was a hint of warmth in that smile.
Darius' return smile reflected his own amusement. He unbuckled the sword and held it out to her. "You gave me this long ago... I have no need of it now."
Anya sighed and leaned forward resting her arms on her thighs. She made no move to take the sword... but her eyes regarded it with intense interest. "Are you so certain you wish to give that up? Without it... you will die. It may return to claim your life one day."
"Then I will give it... as the Ancient did."
Anya shook her head so that her dark but graying hair fell loose from the knot that held it back and tumbled about her shoulders like a great storm cloud. In the distance Darius heard thunder and wondered if it was related to this being from earliest days.
"He was always a fool... a dreamer... but I did love him once." She reached into the healing waters of the holy spring and let it pour over her hand. For several moments she said nothing further. Then... almost to herself... she whispered. "I should have known when you were a boy... when you held the sword and it was only a sword in your hands... I should have seen it then... but I was focused on another... on wanting him to find the answers... end the division. You were a surprise." She looked up at him and smiled once more. "You were certainly a surprise my little warrior."
"I am no longer a warrior." Again he held the sword out to her.
"Oh Darius... you will always be a warrior... it is a part of you. But now I think you will strive for something other than what you did before. Perhaps it is you who will one day find the answers and solve the puzzles."
Reluctantly she reached out for the sword. As soon as she claimed it... the expression on her face hardened for a moment. Anya closed her eyes... as if fighting with some inner demon. When she opened them again... her eyes flashed a little greener... but her face was once more one of calm and amusement. "Ask my beloved if he has forgiven me?"
"I do not understand?" Darius shook his head.
"He who is within... Ask him... do you not hear him speak?"
Darius nodded. "But they are only memories of what he knew... It's not as if he were still living. What he knew I know... at least... some of it."
"Not the oldest memories?" Anya asked. "Has he hidden those from you... Perhaps you are not yet ready. When you are... the world for our kind may well be changed. Perhaps he had his own plans... as I had mine... as my brother had his. Each of us sought to heal the rift... I think that sometimes we may have been working at cross-purposes to one another. Thus, nothing ever went quite how each of us planned." She rose and placed the sword within her cloak and adjusted the leather bag he recalled from his childhood. Anya leaned down to pick up her heavy staff, leaning on it as if she were greatly weary. "Someday he will forgive me... he has to... until then... I go on."
Anya began walking toward the gates.
Darius followed her, "Stay... you can teach me so much. You who knew the earliest days... you can share that knowledge so that it will never be lost. You can help us all to understand our purpose in this world."
"I have already shared it with another. One day he will remember it. One day... if he chooses, he will reclaim our past. And perhaps rebuild the world we once knew."
Anya paused and turned toward him, her eyes widened in surprise. "How is it you know this?"
"I learned some of it in the Quickening... I saw him afterwards... knew he had been the Ancient's student... I tried to give him the sword. But he refused it. As he left... some memory of who he was... who he had been came to me. I have kept that secret. I've told no one until now."
"Then keep it still, little warrior. When he is ready... he will tell you himself."
She resumed her leaving.
"Will you ever return?"
"Perhaps... remember what you saw in the stone of seeing that long ago day, my little warrior? One day... you may have to choose between what you saw and what you may one day discover. May you choose wisely." Her voice faded as she walked away... into the mists that began to rise from the river. In moments he could no longer see her... but he felt her diminishing presence for some time. At last... even that faded.
Uncertain of who she was beyond an Ancient Immortal... what she had wanted with him... what she might one day require of him... Darius returned thoughtfully to his labors... buoyed by the thoughts within... In perfect service there is love. All life is one. Now and for all time... all that is, all that was, all that will be... all is one. In that unity is perfect peace. Yet even as the Ancient's memories filled his mind... he saw once more the elusive vision of a masked woman dancing about a great bonfire. He had never told Anya what he'd seen... he'd told her instead that he'd seen himself leading an army. "Had she known anyway?" Darius wondered, but soon his labors and tasks occupied him. Anya's words faded... and with them... the memory of that vision he'd once seen in a glowing crystal vanished also. It would be more than eight hundred years before he thought of it again.