Epilogue

Paris, April 1988

… sketch the trees and the daffodils.
Catch the breeze and the winter chills, in colors on the snowy linen land.

from Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) by Don MacLean

Alisaunne hopped from the stones surrounding the spring and rolled in the grass. Lying on her back she gazed up through the overhanging tree limbs, through the screen, and into the blue sky. She giggled. She liked it here.

Rolling to one side she eyed the narrow stone stairs that led to where Uncle Jacques was working. Madame Lucerne had to go away today… so Uncle Jacques was watching her. The door at the top of the stairs was open and she knew he was listening for her.

Alisaunne scrambled to her feet and crossed to the base of the stone stairs. He'd told her to stay down here… but surely she could climb them to see him. She was on the third step when she looked up and saw his tall figure at the top of the stairs as if he'd known she was climbing them.

She waved and started up once more… only to be swept into his arms as he carried her back down and sat beside her on the stones around the spring.

"You must not go up there, Alisaunne. The stairs are treacherous. What if you fell?"

Alisaunne shrugged. "I missed you."

Uncle Jacques chuckled. "Yes… I suppose you did. All right." He held up his arm and she climbed into his lap and sighed as she wrapped her fingers around his and let his calm presence fill her as it always had. She was only truly happy when she was with him. Sometimes she wondered where he went during the day. Or why he was sometimes gone for days at a time.

Madame Lucerne had said only, "Ton oncle travail… your uncle works."

"Where?"

But if Madame Lucerne knew… she said nothing. Today she'd gone away… and Uncle Jacques had opened the iron gate and let her play in the magical garden. Alisaunne was always happy to play here. She only wished he'd play with her.

"Now wait here, Alisaunne," he said after a several minutes. He rose, staggered a bit and raised a hand to his head. He smiled down at her. "I'll be back down in a few moments."

She'd nodded. She wondered why he always seemed so tired anymore… especially whenever he let her sit in his lap. Alisaunne kicked her feet back and forth before her and giggled. She wanted to run and jump… not sit still.

A few minutes late Uncle Jacques returned… carrying some books. He set the two smaller ones on the grass by his feet and opened the large one in his lap. As he bent over it… pen in hand… running his fingers over the pages and tapping the pen… Alisaunne stood up and leaned over his shoulder.

"What is that mon oncle?"

He smiled at her. "Just a book of my thoughts. Everything that's important to me is in this book."

"Am I?"

He smiled at her and touched the tip of her nose with a soft chuckle. "Oui!" He flipped through some pages and showed her a page.

She leaned closely to the strange marks and shook her head. "I don't see me."

"Ahh…" He carefully wrote out a beautifully curved symbol. Tapping the word he smiled at her, "Alisaunne."

Sitting beside him once more, the little girl pulled the book closer and turned it about. Finally she handed it back and shrugged while shaking her head in confusion.

"Perhaps this will make sense."

He took her small hand and drew over the lines on her palm then he turned her hand palm down and pressed it to a blank page. Next he held her hand steady and drew a line around it. When Alisaunne lifted her hand… the marks he'd made on it had appeared on the page.

"Now… you are in the book."

"Is ma mere in the book?"

He looked at her soberly. Finally he nodded and flipped to another page. There was a lock of black hair there. She lifted it out and held it close to her own. Then she peered at the pages. More marks that made no sense. She returned the lock of hair.

"Mon pere?"

"Certainment!" He turned to another page. More marks.

She sighed.

"What is wrong ma chere?"

"I wanted pictures."

"Alas… I have none."

Alisaunne kicked her heels back and forth despondently.

"Never mind, Alisaunne. When you are grown… what's in this book will mean more to you than pictures."

"It will be mine?"

Uncle Jacques nodded. He closed the big book and reached down to pick up the thick book. "Your mother gave me this book." She held it and flipped through the pages, then handed it back with a shrug.

"Oui… that one is for grownups. This one… however… Perhaps I could read it to you. This one belonged to your mama. There are no pictures here, either, I fear. It is called Candide and was one of your mama's favorite books. When you are older… I shall give it to you so that you can read it for yourself."

Alisaunne curled up next to him to listen. She loved his voice… He seemed to paint pictures with it whenever he read to her. The afternoon passed into evening.

When darkness came, Madame Lucerne returned and Uncle Jacques handed her over to her, patting her head.

"You promise, mon oncle," she said. "The books will be mine someday?"

He nodded. "They will be yours. And when they are… they will mean more to you than anything in the world."

"Even you?"

He laughed. "Oui, ma chere, even me." He kissed her brow and left… closing the door behind him.

#30#

Author's Afterword

This story grew in the telling… as do all stories… especially those we feel are true somehow. Myth is like that. Myth is truth wrapped in lovely magical images that entice us and feed our imaginations. At times I feared I had reached too far, created too complicated a scenario, and would never have the skill to reach the end I could see… an end that changed only slightly as the story took its final form.

In the end, Derrick always left to join the world, and Ian had always died… or been lost… but in some versions… the reasons for being in the grove at the end… were different. I won't elaborate… they may yet find a place in some future tale.

The map hidden in Les Miserables remains unfound, as do the artifacts whose exact location remains unknown… but the clue to finding them is still somewhere at the old chapel near the battle of Waterloo. I haven't forgotten… but I couldn't yet work them in.

On the other hand, the writing in the cavern is being studied by Alisaunne, holder of the Ancient One's Quickening, if not all of his memories, and immortals begin to understand the unity of their existence with all living things. The dangers inherent in the unity, first suggested to Connor MacLeod by Ramirez in the first film, will become more apparent as the years pass. So too will the sacrifice necessary to have children… and why it has always been hidden from them… until they were ready. The mystery of the legend of the Gathering… and the final battle will also be eventually addressed.

As for Derrick… he still has a lot to learn… and years will pass before he grows into the future Cassandra once saw for him in a vision. Until then… I shall leave him in peace.

As for who survived, who's in comas, and who died… we shall see… Oh yes… we shall see. The repercussions for all that endured the dreamstate also wait.

My thanks once again to Gregory Widen for his vision in the creation of this concept of immortality, and to Panzer/Davis et al for keeping it going and allowing the rest of us to play in it. My thanks also to David Abramowitz and his writers for the creation of all these lovely canon characters to work with. We know so little about some of them… sometimes only a name… that they are fun to envision and develop. The other, more familiar ones like Duncan, Amanda, Methos, and Joe… are old friends we enjoy with each new visit. The fun is in allowing them to grow and evolve… and yet be forever the same… true to the portraits painted of them within the series.

The Connor MacLeod timeline with Amber Conroy moves between the events pictured in the original film, the episode The Gathering, as well as Endgame. Duncan MacLeod, Amanda, Joe, Methos and Amy Brennan-Thomas were from the series. Also from the series I took the following: Felice Martins (Felicia Martins), Keith Boyer, Matt McCormick, Robert and Gina de Valicourt, Alex Raven, Katya, Kyra, Michele Webster, Carl Robinson, Derek Worth, Cassandra, Grace Chandel, Kage (a.k.a. John Kirin), Reagan Cole, Stephen Keane, Claudia Jardine, Greg Powers, Kenny, Ursa, Cory Raines, and Walter Graham. While I added some of the interpersonal relationships, I used their various episodes and The New Watcher Chronicles CD-ROM as the resource for my characterizations of them.

From the series Highlander: The Raven, I lifted Nick Wolfe, Burt Meyers, Raphael, Jeremy Dexter, and Jade. While the facts of their pasts and their attitudes came from what little was known about them that I could find, their relationships and some of the information I used about them was entirely created.

I don't own any of the canon characters… although I wish I did. I trust I've not presented them as too far from how they were in the series… at least the ones that we know fairly well. As always, I try to take what we know from the movies and the series, and push the boundaries to tell the story I want to tell.

All other characters are mine and are original with me. Anyone wishing to use any of them in stories should contact me. Phrases from songs were used without permission, but I hope I may be excused for finding lines in song that inflame the imagination… and help me to find focus and theme for my stories.

The concept of requiring three immortals to procreate… came from Vonda McIntyre's excellent novel Dreamsnake, but was also a concept used in the series Alien Nation. I took the idea of three… and worked it slightly differently. It just seemed to make sense… at least to me.

I've begun the next one in this series… but it may be some time before anyone sees it. Instead… I will be focusing my energies on an original novel and some short stories that work in that original world. As for Highlander… I will be exploring some other stories with other canon characters and other original ones. In moving this series into the future… I found I missed doing flashbacks. I have plans for another Highlander Fable starring Hugh Fitzcairn, and some readers have asked about a Phillip story that will finally deal with a lot of his background. I've also been working on a sequel to No Place to Run, Nowhere to Hide. Aja may also put in another appearance in a story featuring her.

As for Eleanor… essentially her story is done. She still has a future before her… but her long journey alone in the world is at last over. I think I will leave her in peace for now… and let her rest in the arms of love.