Special thanks to Matt Garvey for beta-reading!
Back in Wales
Somewhere near Carmarthen, Wales. 2002.
did he say?" asked Methos, when MacLeod returned to the car after
talking with a police officer.
"The road is closed."
"That much I've figured. Why?"
"Something is wrong with a pipeline. The repair will take several hours."
"There is another one", - said MacLeod peacefully. – "It'll be a little longer, across the woods."
"And do you know this forest road?"
"It's in the atlas."
"Well, drive. Susanin."
"Methos, stop whining. Don't tell me you didn't like the festival."
Methos pulled a face.
They were coming back from Carmarthen, where the festival in question had taken place. It was devoted to Merlin and King Arthur and actually it was quite funny. Several nice plays, a lot of alcohol and no other Immortals. One of Mac's endless friends was among the organizers; that's why he was eager to visit Wales – and drag Methos with him. Not that Methos really resisted, he had planned to leave London for sometime in that moment. (One of his old acquaintances should be passing through – and Methos hadn't wanted to take risk of a chance meeting with him.) And he did enjoy the festival; he just didn't want to admit it to MacLeod. This way it was much funnier.
driving through the woods now and suddenly stopped, because the
fallen tree blocked their way. MacLeod got out of the car and tried
to move it.
"Are you going to help me or would you prefer to stay there forever?"
With a sigh, Methos left the car, too, and together they removed the tree. But then MacLeod noticed a small pass, leading into the heart of the woods.
"Methos, let's check where it leads."
"Who knows, maybe we'll find the Merlin grave!"
"MacLeod, you've read too much fantasy this week. And Merlin is buried in a mountain."
"Well, I'm going anyway. You can wait here, if you want." And he followed the path. Mumbling something under his breath, Methos followed him.
The path did
lead somewhere. It wasn't a Merlin grave, of course, but it was
something interesting. A large stone, half of the human height,
ornate in Celtic style, stood in the middle of a small clearing. Mac
approached to take a closer look; it was really old, maybe even
ancient, but well preserved. He heard Methos' steps behind him, so
he turned back and asked:
"Methos, what do you think, how old…" And there he stopped, startled by his friend's expression. The displeased grimace had vanished completely from his face; he was pale like a snow.
"Back away, Macleod. You are standing on the grave."
"Those are my ancestors you're standing on", Rachel told to him once. The same menace was now in Methos voice. MacLeod went aside, and without any more words Methos came close to the stone, laid his right hand on it and closed his eyes.
The stone still remembered. Fire. Blood, screams and fire. The stone still remembered it all.
"Methos, do you know this place?"
The Old Man gave
no sign he had heard the question; instead he did the most unexpected
thing: he extracted his cellular with his left hand and began
"What are you doing?"
"What does it
look like?" he practically spat, without looking up. "Sending a
"Guess I'd better go and look around a bit."
returned half an hour later. Methos was in the same position, still
staring at the phone.
"I've found a spring about 50 feet away. It's rather cold and very clear."
"Yeah", said Methos absently. "It's Enfys."
Then his phone hummed with an SMS-signal, Methos read the message and finally raised his eyes.
"Duncan, could you do me a favor?"
"Yes, of course." It wasn't usual for Methos to use his given name. "What is it?"
"Could you drive to Cardiff now and meet Jess in the airport tomorrow morning? Her plane arrives at 10:30."
"Yeah, Jess, Jessa, Jessica Stark."
Well, at least MacLeod understood now, whom Methos was speaking about and whom he was sending messages, but still…
"It's her place", Methos waved his left hand, circling the clearing. "I was just a guest, but she belongs here. And there are things she had to do. Would you drive her here?"
"I will. And you?"
"I'll stay here."
"I'm a big boy, MacLeod. And it certainly won't be the first night in my life, spent in the open air."
MacLeod found that he had nothing to say against it. Methos really was a big boy.
"There are a couple of power flashlights in the car and a box of good matches. I'll bring it?"
"If it makes you feel better."
MacLeod did bring flashlights and matches, but after that he finally left. When both the Presence and the car noise vanished in the air, Methos inhaled deeply and put his hand away from the stone. He briefly considered an idea of setting a small campfire, but then the memory of another fire struck through him like a lightning bolt; and he left the flashlights and matches where Mac had laid them. He walked around the stone and sat down, leaning on it. Someone can call it a sacrilege, but he hoped that the long dead Gods wouldn't mind. He was older than them, anyway. And a piece of his heart was buried nearby.
Ivan Susanin is a famous patriot from Russian history. In 1612 he volunteered to show a way to Tsar's refuge for the Polish army, but instead he leaded them to impassable marshes, where they all perished. "To play Susanin" means to lead someone somewhere without really knowing a way or with a real risk of getting lost.
The character of Jessica Stark was introduced in my first story "Is the Earth round?". It takes place several years before "Back in Wales", but both stories can stand on their own.