I don't own Methos or Immortals or anything else to do with Highlander!
Ospisdale is in North East Scotland, near Dornoch, and home to the Marked Stone.
Moonlight in Ospisdale
The full moon was rising, leaving the pathway strewn with glittering shadows of oak leaf. Methos smiled to himself, breathing deeply of the late summer air. Though he was weary from travel, he could feel an excitement coming over him. He had not passed this way in nearly thirty years, as a soldier under Roman authority. Now he was at last free of his duty to Claudius, and free to return to Briton. Only two years before, sensing change in the air, Methos had released the Celt, Airk, his servant, friend, and Immortal student. He had given him his freedman writ, and encouraged him to come here and wait until Methos had completed his duties to Rome. He had received word from Airk that much had changed, as was inevitable under the rule of Rome. Again, he mourned his part in that invasion, although he could not regret his ambition. The might of the Eagle had made him a wealthy man.
Methos came through the thickest grove of trees, just before the glen. On the warm night breeze, a soft chanting in the voices of women floated to him. As he came to the head of the hill, he could see the clearing in the glen below him, and moonlight illuminated the misty robed and dancing figures circling the cup marked stone, which stood tall and straight in the shadow cast glen, a silent sentinel. Their words were in a tongue more ancient than Methos could remember. He knew not the translations, although he had heard the words before. For a moment, he lost himself in memory. Although he originally had come to subdue the renegade Celts, he had heard the words of the druids who kept the ancient ways, and become acquainted with their sisters hidden in their stronghold deep in the hills. They spoke deeper truth than the Roman gods and goddesses, and an older one than the new followers of Christ. The Priestess Eilleann, so wise, so beautiful, so knowing of the ways of man, had contrived to make him Hunter at the spring rites once.That moment still lived in his blood. The faint hope that perhaps the power of that fertility rite could overcome the barrenness of Immortality had given the ritual more meaning for him than Eilleann could ever have known.
Eillean would be dead now, or else very old. All who had known him as he was would be gone, replaced by their children in the perpetual cycle of life. Young Darr would be chieftain now, or his brothers. So why was he so eager to return here?
Their song came on the wind. A magic lit the night as they welcomed the full moon; twelve women in three circles of four, writhing in the dance. Some voices were chanting, others singing the wordless refrain. Methos loosened his cloak in the warm night and watched in silence.
At this distance, he couldn't see their faces. Long hair flowed loose around them. Their pale robes swayed around their ankles as they moved, swaying like the ancient oak trees above.
He had been away so long, living a life of war and conquest. Peace had seemed so far away. The grace and beauty of the dancing figures was immediate. It was Now. At last he felt an easing in his soul, a peace that had eluded him the last thirty years. Rome would exist without him, and even if it did not, it would not be the first empire he had left behind.
Now was a time to heal.
With a sigh, he turned back to the pathway. He heard the song ending in the glen, and knew the sisters would be coming up the hill, returning to their hidden compound. When they drew close, he stepped aside and stood, eyes downcast in honor as they filed past him. Two by two they came, the Priestess and her Speaker in the lead, the Initiated next, followed by the acolytes with their covered heads and white robes. Something made him look up in the last instant. One of the acolytes raised her head and smiled at him, a soft, secret smile. He smiled back, unbidden. Her blue eyes gleamed in the yellow light, and her lip twitched in amusement. How like Eilleann she was! She must be one of the daughters of the Spring Rites.
At last, he turned towards the village. It was too late to wake the people, so he wrapped his cloak about him, curled under the comforting arms of the great oak tree, and slept until daylight. First light found him at Airk's round house. The hum of the young Immortal within would have let him know which it was even had it not been clearly marked with a Roman shield on the door. Airk greeted him sleepily.
"Amethus! You came in the night?"
Methos gripped Airk's arm in greeting. "I arrived with the full moon."
Airk passed Methos a bowl of cooked grain sweetened with honey. "Did you have a safe journey? The roadways aren't as safe as they once were."
"Safe enough, friend. I passed none on the road save the Forest Ladies." Airk paused and stared. "Who?"
Methos smiled at the memory. "The priestesses, celebrating the full moon at the Marked Stone in the glen."
Airk dropped his bowl, his grey eyes wide. "Amethus, you must come with me." He grabbed Methos arm and dragged him, still holding his breakfast, from the hearth and back into the dewy morning.
"Airk! What are you doing?" Methos stumbled as he ducked through the doorway. " I'm starved to death!"
"Not likely. " Airk retorted. "And even if you were, you won't want breakfast after this."
He dragged Methos through the woods, across the small linn, past the sacred spring of Sulis and through the dark stand of pines. At last he stopped and pointed.
Where once the compound of the sisterhood had stood was now a pile a blackened rubble.
Without a word, Airk spun Methos roughly to face a blackened circle at the edge of the trees.
"Amethus." He spoke slowly and clearly. "The priestesses were slain. Burned alive at the stake upon the order of Antonine. Last year. They even dragged old Eillean from her deathbed to throw into the flames.
"Nothing grows here now." He said softly, "Nor ever will again."
Methos stared at the blackened earth, the scarred trees, and it seemed that his heart had stopped beating in his chest. His mouth worked silently, his hazel eyes shifting to grey as they took in the scene and imagined what must have happened here.
What he was feeling, was it grief? Or horror? He had slain, burned, murdered...but like this? All of their grace and beauty gone, reduced to blackened ash...
Airk laid both hands on Methos' shoulders, waiting until his eyes focused. His voice was soft and curious. "Can you tell me, friend? Tell me again who it was that you saw in the glen last night."
Methos had walked the earth for centuries. He knew answers to questions long forgotten, and yet, this answer he did not know.
App. 2000 Years Later
Methos stopped the rental car at the top of the hill and gazed down. Oak trees still lined the roadway, but they were small and new, not the timeless forest it had once been. The roadway flowed down the glen now, directly past the Marked Stone. Within feet of it, even. Some ancient part of him rebelled at the site.
But he rolled the car forward, just a little, and reached to wake Alexa. She had been getting steadily weaker since they left Rome, but he wanted to share this with her. They would go to Switzerland after this, to the best medical care in the world. As he had hoped, the late summer sky was clear, the sun dropping away in the late evening. Alexa woke, taking the tea he offered her with a grateful and loving smile. As they waited, the moon rose. For a moment he doubted. He hadn't come here in over 100 years. What if the magic had gone?
And then they heard it, soft as a whisper on the summer night. Ancient words, ancient tunes, and a sweetness that sang of delight, tradition and enchantment. He glanced at Alexa, and saw the magic light her face as she opened the car door and stood, leaning in the moonlight watching the misty dance in the field below. This was how he would remember her, lit by the magic of the August moon and the last mystery he would share with her.