what's new

Click here to find out what's new on this site.



Sections of this site

Highlander - The Raven Highlander Highlander Highlander - The Raven

In Memoriam, Part Three

This year I slept and woke with pain,
I almost wish'd no more to wake,
And that my hold on life would break,
Before I heard those bells again.


Paris, 1999

The barge looked no better close up than it did from across the river, Nick thought. You'd think after centuries, the guy would end up living somewhere better than this. He just didn't seem the type. Casual, yes, but not this casual. As he started up the gangway, he saw that first looks could be deceptive. The paint work was immaculate, the ropes neatly laid out, as if this boat was intended to sail at any time, not just to bob up and down as the river lapped at its hull. What did that tell him about the owner, he wondered?

Getting on it was one thing, getting into it was another. There didn't seem to be a door other than the one at the side of the wheel house. Then he saw the steps going down and followed them. At the door, he paused. What was he doing here? She was bad enough at times, but at least she was a known quantity. This MacLeod guy was something else. He wondered, not too idly, if there was enough room in one of these things to wield a sword. There was only one way to find out. He knocked. There was a pause, then the door opened.

"Hello," said MacLeod, clearly surprised at seeing Nick Wolfe on his doorstep. He glanced around, as if to reassure himself that Amanda wasn't there. "Is something wrong?"

"No," said Nick. "Well, not exactly 'wrong'." He looked at MacLeod. It was too late to back out now. "It's about Amanda," he said. MacLeod stepped back and opened the door wider.

"You'd better come in," he said. Nick stepped inside and saw that the barge looked bigger inside than he expected. Plenty of room to swing a sword. Mind you, he saw what Amanda meant about the furniture. MacLeod was redefining minimalist in Nick's eyes. "What about Amanda?" asked the minimalist.

"She's really upset about this business with Anselm," said Nick. "She tries to hide it, but I know she's been to see Liam twice over it and she keeps bringing it up in conversation. And she asked me to find out all I could about him. And that's not Amanda. Usually, she tries to keep me out of 'Immortal business'."

"What did you find out?" asked Duncan.

"That he has a chequered past," said Nick. "There's practically nothing on him until the end of the last century. There seems to be a gunfighter who made a habit of bringing back wanted men dead rather than alive. Man called Robert Ansell. There's an old photo in the Smithsonian that Amanda says is him. Then there's an Anselm Roberts who was wanted by the British in India in the twenties. Involved with opium smuggling, apparently, although he left a trail of dead bodies behind him as well, all killed with a single shot by an expert gunman. Guess who matches the description?"

"So what do you want from me?" asked Duncan.

"You know Amanda," said Nick. "This is tearing her apart. It has been ever since you told her about Anselm and this Juliette. She swears it isn't him, but he doesn't seem to be the nice guy she remembers. At least, not anymore."

Duncan looked at him. "Go on," he said.

"Amanda wants to talk with Anselm, but she's afraid that someone's head is going to get cut off before she can. If he kills Juliette or she kills him, I think she's scared that it will end up with the two of you facing each other." Duncan looked at Nick.

"What are you asking?" he said.

"If Anselm kills Juliette, will you go after him or not?" asked Nick. Duncan hesitated.

"Where is Amanda now?" he asked.

"She's gone out of town for the day. She's taken a friend to some old abbey."

"Rebecca's," said Duncan, quietly.

"No," said Nick, not quite hearing him, "Michelle." Duncan shook his head.

"No," he said, "the abbey belonged to Rebecca. She was Amanda's teacher. Michelle is her student." Half a truth, he thought. Michelle Webster should have been his student, but the wild child who had driven herself off a cliff had been a risk he couldn't take. When he'd seen the Websters with the bright-eyed little girl running rings round them, he'd known straight away that one day she would become Immortal. He'd just never expected that it would be so soon. After she had died, he couldn't keep Michelle in Seacouver with her parents still alive, so he'd sent her to Amanda, who had taught the young Immortal the basics of the Game. They had sent her to a finishing school in Switzerland to complete her education, spending her vacations with Amanda or with Duncan, if he was in Paris. She would graduate this summer coming. In more ways than one. Her training was over. It was time for her to make her own way in the world.

Nick wasn't really surprised to learn that Michelle was one of them. The girl had breezed into The Sanctuary the night before, too familiar with Amanda, too ready to flirt with him. He hadn't asked and Amanda hadn't volunteered the information, but MacLeod's comment only confirmed a strong suspicion.

"So, what about Anselm?" he asked. MacLeod didn't answer, seeming to be distracted. "Someone coming?" asked Nick. MacLeod looked at him, slightly annoyed, but before he could say anything, the door opened and a slightly built man walked in, followed by a woman.

"Hi, Mac," said the newcomer, adding, "Ah, company," when he spotted Nick. "Adam Pierson," he continued, holding out his hand. Nick shook hands with him.

"Nick Wolfe," he said. He turned to the woman. "And you are?"

"Juliette," said the girl, "Juliette Morris." Nick shook hands with her, then turned to MacLeod. He reached into his pocket and produced a matchbook from the Sanctuary. "I gotta go," he said. "Let me know your answer." He turned to the newcomers. "Nice to meet you," he said.

Outside, he turned to look at the barge for a moment. "Juliette Morris," he said, half to himself.


The ruins of the old abbey echoed to the clash of steel on steel, the two women matching each other blow for blow as they sparred. Their combat was intense but controlled, both familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the other from long hours spent practising together. Or so it should have been, but Amanda thought she detected a new confidence in her former student that had not been there the last time they had fought. Michelle was quicker, more deceptive than she had ever been.

"You've been practising," said Amanda, as they took a brief rest. Michelle smiled.

"Don't think that you and Duncan are the only ones who can teach a girl how to use a sword," teased Michelle. "I have men lining up to teach me."

"Ah," said Amanda, smiling, "and what do you teach them in return?" For a brief moment, it seemed that the laugh deserted Michelle's eyes, then it was back.

"What do you think?" she said. "How easy it is to be disappointed!" The two women laughed.

"Come on," said Amanda, "one last time." They stood and faced each other, sword in hand, and slowly their smiles faded. That had been the first thing that Amanda had drilled into Michelle. When you face an Immortal with a sword in their hand, the time for jesting is over. She feinted, a testing move to see where Michelle's mind was, and was not disappointed. Michelle's blade tapped her own, just enough to make the point. Amanda swung, charging forward, trying to drive Michelle backwards, but the younger girl seemed ready for that and stepped away, letting Amanda pass to her side. As soon as they were level, Michelle took her sword in both hands, inverting her grip, and Amanda found a spinning wall of steel advancing on her. Before she had time to react, Michelle had stepped in, forced Amanda's sword away and hooked the hilt of her sword over Amanda's. She stepped back, pulling Amanda's sword from her hands, then her blade was at Amanda's throat.

Michelle smiled, then moved the sword away as she relaxed.

"You didn't see that coming, did you?" she asked. Amanda stared at her, all traces of humour having vanished from her face.

"Where did you learn that?" she asked.


Geneva, Christmas 1997

The way things were going, Christmas was shaping up to be a big disappointment. Michelle had turned down the chance to go to Val d'Isere with the girls from the Lycee, believing that she would be staying with Amanda, but a phone call from Lucy, Amanda's housekeeper, had put paid to that. Something about Paris being too hot for Amanda at the minute and they were house hunting in the States, Amanda having decided to relocate there from Europe.

Under normal circumstances, Michelle would not have been too worried, as she could have expected to spend the holidays with Duncan MacLeod, but Lucy had been suspiciously vague on that point. Apparently, Duncan wasn't in Paris and he wasn't in Seacouver either. Nobody seemed to know where he was, but everyone was sure he was alive. Michelle was sure there was something they weren't telling her, but whichever way you dressed it up, there was one thing becoming very clear.

She was going to be alone. At Christmas.

She had half-debated trying to follow the others to Val d'Isere, but had decided against it. Too many explanations, too many questions for someone with a background that wouldn't stand too much scrutiny. So, she had decided to make the most of it and had gone shopping for all the trimmings for a 'proper' Christmas. If she had to be on her own she might as well indulge herself. Last on the list of things she needed for her apartment were some flowers. She had put off buying these until the very last minute, hoping that they would last right through until the holidays were over. The florist had a good selection and she was busy trying to make a selection when she felt him.

All thoughts of flowers were forgotten as she turned and looked out of the window, trying to pick him out of the crowd. It didn't take long for her to spot him. He was walking towards the shop, his hands in his pockets, scanning the passers-by. He had obviously sensed her nearby and was curious. But not worried. His walk was too relaxed, too casual. And that worried Michelle.

He opened the door and stepped inside, his eyes taking in the shop, the assistants, the single customer rooted to the spot. He smiled slowly, a wry, sardonic smile that reached his eyes, and walked across to stand beside her. Under other circumstances, she thought, she could grow to like that smile.

She reached underneath her coat, trying to take comfort from the solid feel of her sword.

"I hope you're reaching for your purse," he said, studying the arranged flowers with a keen eye.

"Pardon?" she said. He tilted his head to look at her, one eyebrow raised.

"I said, I hope you're reaching for your purse. I'd hate for you to pick a fight you can't win." She stared at him, then slowly took her hand out of her coat.

"I'm Michelle Webster," she said.

"I'm sure you are," he replied. That smile again. "Relax, Michelle Webster. I've come to buy some flowers. I haven't come for your head." He glanced round. "Unless they have some mistletoe, of course." He laughed softly at his own joke. Michelle didn't know how to take his comment and turned back to studying the flowers. He wasted no time in making his choice and paying for them. As he was leaving, he stopped behind her and leant forward, his voice almost a whisper in her ear.

"Nice to meet you, Michelle Webster." Then he was gone, vanishing into the crowd. She stared after him for a long moment, wondering who he was and whether he was more than a slow smile.

She was making her way home with her shopping, the flowers cradled carefully in one arm, when she felt an Immortal again. She looked to see if the man from the flower shop was visible, but he was nowhere to be seen. A tall, dark haired woman caught her eye, standing at the entrance to a small alleyway, her long coat draped around her more like a cloak. The woman nodded, the briefest of acknowledgements, then disappeared into the alley. For an instant, Michelle considered dropping everything she was carrying and running like hell. But she could hear Amanda's voice in her ear.

"When you're challenged, you choose your weapon, choose your ground and fight your best fight. It's all you can do. This is your life now."

Trying to ignore her heart pounding in her chest and the thunder of her own blood loud in her ears, she crossed the road and walked down the alleyway. Once it got behind the shops and houses fronting onto the road, it opened into a courtyard, the old buildings around tall and forbidding, lending a grim feel to the place. The woman was waiting on the far side, sword in hand. Michelle put down her parcels on the ground and took out her own sword.

"Do I know you?" she asked, moving forward, trying to get into a better position if the other attacked.

"Irina Petrov," said the woman. "And you are?"

"Michelle Webster." A pause, then "What do you want?" It may be an obvious question, but it was best to avoid misunderstandings. Especially when they could get you killed.

"Your head." No danger of a misunderstanding there.

"Why?" asked Michelle. "What have I done to you?" The woman shrugged.

"Nothing. But then again, that doesn't really matter, does it? Just think of your Quickening as my Christmas present."

"We don't know each other well enough for presents," said Michelle.

"Too bad," said Irina. She sprang forward and Michelle caught the blow on her sword. She let it slide off and moved away. Irina swung again and again Michelle fended the blow. The third time wasn't so easy and she realised that the woman was stronger than she was. The next strike forced her backwards and Michelle realised that she was being manoeuvred into a corner. Before she had time to think, Irina parried her sword and enveloped the blade, sending Michelle's weapon flying through the air. Michelle stared at the woman, whose gloating smile was preferable to the sharp edge of the sword she was holding in front of her. Just.

"Happy Christmas," said Irina. The sword began to move, the start of the stroke that would sever Michelle's head from her shoulders and she closed her eyes. She didn't want to see this coming, but she opened them when she felt another Immortal come closer. Irina was staring at her, but the sword was suspended in mid-air. Irina stepped backwards, her sword pointing at Michelle, and turned to see the newcomer. He was stood where Michelle had put down her flowers, still carrying the bouquet he had bought in the florist's shop.

"Anselm!" Irina hissed.

"Hello, Irina," said the man. "Don't let me stop you." It was evident that this was exactly what he had in mind and both women realised it. Irina stepped away from Michelle, all but ignoring the young Immortal, her sword in front of her, her attention focused on the newcomer.

"What?" she said. "And let you take my head when the girl's Quickening is done? No, Anselm, I'm not that stupid."

"Good," he said, walking towards her with that same casual air that had marked him when he walked into the florist's shop. So casual. Too casual, Michelle thought, the kind of casual that takes a long time to pull off. Centuries, probably. "Then maybe you have remembered something from everything I taught you," Anselm continued. He stopped just beyond the reach of Irina's thrust, gesturing at her sword. "Are you testing the strength in your arms or are you going to put that thing down?"

Irina stared at him. "That depends," she said, finally.

"On what?"


"Ah," he said. "You want to know if I will interfere if you take the head of young Michelle here." He paused for a moment, then shook his head. "No, I won't. But you were right. I'll just take yours when you're down from the Quickening." The smile was playing around the edges of his mouth, but it hadn't touched his eyes. They were cold and unyielding.

For a moment, Michelle didn't know what Irina would do, then breathed a sigh of relief as the woman spoke.

"Damn you, you bastard." Anselm cut her off before she could say any more.

"Now, Irina, no threats. You know you'd lose." The woman turned and glared at Michelle.

"This is your lucky day, little girl. But I'll see you again." Then she was gone, sliding her sword beneath that cape-like coat, leaving Michelle alone with Anselm. Michelle tried to gauge the distance to her sword, but Anselm was ahead of her, picking it up from where it had fallen. She stood up, wondering whether he would kill her.

"This is yours," he said, holding it out to her. "You didn't last very long against Irina. How long have you been one of us?"

"Three years, near enough," said Michelle.

"Who was your teacher?"

"Amanda," she said. He smiled. She was vaguely reassured when, this time, the smile reached his eyes.

"Ah, that explains it," he said. "If I were you, I'd stay away from Irina. She doesn't have much of a sense of humour. She never did," he added, half to himself. He looked up at Michelle. "Nice seeing you again," he said, turning to leave.

"Wait," she said. He turned back to face her, but said nothing, waiting for her to finish. "Would you have let her kill me?"

"No," he said. "But Irina believes that I would. That's what she would have done. Then taken my head whilst I was weakened by the Quickening."

"Why wouldn't she fight you?"

"Because she knows who's better," said Anselm. "I was her teacher, once. She wasn't a very good student. But that's no reason to kill her." Michelle took her courage in both hands.

"Will you teach me?"

Anselm shrugged. "Buy me a coffee and we'll talk about it," he said. Michelle smiled. Maybe Christmas wasn't going to be such a loss after all.


Paris, 1999

As a cop, Nick was used to waiting on a stake out, but he was pleasantly surprised when Juliette left the barge barely fifteen minutes after he did. He was relieved to see that she was on her own, not accompanied by that Pierson guy. It would be easier to tail her if there was only one pair of eyes that might spot him and instinct told him that Adam Pierson would be more observant than most. From across the river, he followed her as she walked along the Quais and then up onto the main road as she passed Notre Dame. He waited until she was a little way down the road before crossing at the Pont de Tournelle, near The Sanctuary, hoping she didn't look back. She didn't.

In truth, Juliette was in no mood to look back. She was angry, angry with Duncan MacLeod and with Amanda. Who the hell was that bitch to decide who she could and couldn't fight? After Nick had left the barge, Duncan had told them why Nick had been there and what Amanda had told him about the Anselm she knew.

"You can't ask me not to go after him!" she had protested.

"If you do, you could lose your head," Duncan had said. "And if somehow you take his, Amanda will take yours. And yours, if you get involved," he added, cutting across Methos, who had started to say something. "She's not going to let friendships stand in the way. Trust me, Amanda is serious about this. Stay away from Anselm. Both of you." Juliette had started to protest again, but he'd pleaded with her. "Let me find him and talk with him. There has to be a reason why he was so different when you knew him."

"We all change, MacLeod," said Methos, "and there was a long time between when Amanda knew him and when we met him."

"But not me," said Duncan. "I met him after Culloden and he wasn't the man you describe. The man I met was tired of war and of killing."

"I thought you never met him," said Juliette, suspiciously. "How come you suddenly know him so well?"

"I never knew his name," said Duncan. "I only found out yesterday that the English colonel I met was Anselm."

"Yesterday?" said Juliette. "And you let him walk away?"

"We were only Holy Ground. In Darius' chapel," said Duncan, patiently. "I'd gone to see Liam and he was there."

"Doing what? Praying?" asked Juliette, sarcastically.

"No," said Duncan. "Liam said that he was looking at the flowers on the altar." Methos and Juliette looked at each other.

"It's definitely him," she said. "He always had a thing about flowers. I never knew why." She gathered up her coat.

"Where are you going?" asked Duncan.

"To see Liam Riley," said Juliette, "and don't try to stop me. You see Amanda, you tell her to stay out of my way."

"Juliette!" Duncan protested. He would have tried to stop her, but Methos caught his arm.

"Let her go. This is her fight, not ours," he said. Duncan stared at him for a moment, then looked back to her, but she had gone.

As Juliette approached Darius' chapel, she couldn't feel an Immortal near and she stopped on the pavement outside, feeling slightly foolish. She'd had to get out of the barge, before she said something to Duncan that she regretted, but now she was stood here, she had no idea what she'd intended to do. But her indecision was momentary, as she felt an Immortal approaching and she turned, expecting to see Liam Riley walking along the road. Instead, what she saw made her blood run cold.

He'd always been taller in her memory, dressed in ever clean linen, the whitest cotton, the polish on his boots so deep you could see your reflection even when they were covered in dust. The man standing barely fifty feet away was shabby, the clothes ill-fitting, the stubble betraying only a casual and infrequent relationship with a razor, but it was him. The stare was less forbidding, the shoulders set not quite so square, but he was Anselm. She could tell that he'd recognised her, from the wry smile that briefly crossed his face. He carried on coming towards her, the stride slow and laconic, as if he was not in the least concerned to see her.

"Hello, Juliette," he said, as he approached. "It's good to see you again." She stared at him, the hate welling up inside her.

"I can't say the same, you bastard." She spat the words out, the taste of bile in her mouth. Then her sword was in her hand, pointing at him as his had pointed at her so many years ago. "You can't know how much I've waited for this."

"For what?" he asked. "A chance to die? Don't pick a fight you can't win." He gestured at the chapel. "Put away your sword and come inside. So much has changed. And there was so much you could never know. We can talk about this." She shook her head.

"Not a chance. You draw your sword or I'll cut you down where you stand." His face darkened.

"Wrong choice. I'm not the man I used to be. Believe me. But let's find somewhere a little less public." He held out his hand. "After you."

From across the small park beside the chapel, Nick couldn't be certain just who it was that Juliette was talking to, but it was a fair bet from her body language and the sword in her hand that he was Immortal. As he turned to follow Juliette, Nick got his first clear look at the man and it was enough. The man didn't have the large moustache that Robert Ansell had in his photograph, but otherwise, it was him in the flesh on a Paris street. If he was Anselm, someone was going to lose their head and if that someone was Anselm, Amanda would go nuts. Nick sprinted across the park, trying to see where they had gone, but the street was deserted. He ran in the direction that he thought they'd gone, abandoning any effort to remain unseen. He heard the clash of steel on steel and rounded a corner to see Juliette on her knees, her sword lying out of reach, and Anselm standing over her, sword raised.

"Don't do it, Anselm!" Nick shouted, pointing his gun squarely at Anselm's head. The Immortal glared at the unwelcome newcomer, but didn't move. His sword hung still in the air, ready for the single sweeping cut that would decapitate Juliette. "Drop it," said Nick. He looked at Juliette. "Get out of here." She stared up at Anselm fearfully, then edged away from him. He relaxed his shoulders and lowered his sword, but he still had it in his hands, his grip tight. Juliette scrambled past Nick and he could see the savage cut in her clothes where Anselm had all but gutted her. The capacity of the Immortals to recover from wounds that should kill them never ceased to amaze him. Juliette picked up her sword.

"Shoot him," she said.

"So you can take his head?" said Nick. "Not a chance."

"Then why did you save me?" she asked.

"Because if one of you kills the other, Amanda and MacLeod will both be pissed off. Now," he said, risking a glance at Juliette, "you get the hell out of here. And you," he said to Anselm, "you put that away. You're coming with me."

"Am I, now?" said Anselm, with mock surprise. "And just where are we going?"

"To see Amanda," said Nick. "She wants to see you."

"And if I don't want to go?"

"Then I'll shoot you and carry your body to her," said Nick. Anselm smiled.

"Then I don't really have a choice, do I?" he said. He hid his sword underneath his coat, then turned to Juliette. "You lucky day. It seems you have a most unlikely guardian angel." His smile faded. "Next time, you may not be so lucky. So I'd suggest that you avoid there being a next time." Juliette glared at him, slumped against a wall. She might be alive, Nick realised, but she was still wounded enough not to be able to continue the fight.

"Let's go," he said to Anselm. He hurried the pace until they got to the river, then allowed Anselm to soften his stride as they crossed the bridge by Notre Dame and walked through the garden beside the cathedral. As they prepared to cross the road and head for the footbridge across towards The Sanctuary, Anselm stopped and pointed at a small gate.

"Have you ever been in there?" he asked. Nick shook his head.

"No," he said. He was in no mood for diversions and was about to keep going when he saw the Immortal's face.

"You should," said Anselm, thoughtfully. "It's a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. An ironic gesture by a country that killed so many of its own. How quickly they forget their own children." Nick let this slide by.

"Come on," he said. "It's not far now." It took only a few minutes to reach the door of The Sanctuary, but as they did, Anselm stopped.

"She's here," he said, absently. As they walked inside, Nick was not surprised to see Amanda greet Anselm, but he was surprised to see the warmth of Michelle's greeting for him, a warmth that Anselm returned to both women. It struck Nick that this didn't seem to be the same man who had been ready to behead Juliette less than an hour before.

Amanda's eyes ran over Anselm's face, seeing the differences between the man she'd known and the man standing before her. Her scrutiny didn't go unnoticed.

"Do I pass muster?" Anselm asked.

"Well, you could use a shave and a bath," said Amanda. Her eyes narrowed. "We need to talk. What happened to you?"

"It's a long story," he said. "Do you really want to know?" Amanda nodded mutely, not trusting herself to speak. Nick caught Michelle's eye and beckoned for her to leave with him, but she didn't move. Instead, she stared at both of them for a moment.

"Will you be all right?" she asked. It was Anselm who answered.

"We'll be fine," he said.


Paris, 1793

The leaving had been difficult, but he had known that it was inevitable. There was only so long an Immortal could stay in one place before the questions began asking themselves in everyone's glance. The lines that hadn't appeared on his face, the hair that never greyed with the passing years, the ever-youthful spring in his step when old friends started to walk slower. So he had made his peace with the past and ridden away from his home one morning a dozen days ago. No one had been there to see him go, making an early start on what would be his longest journey. As he had crested the rise beyond Glossop, he had stopped for a few moments to make a memory of the view. The rolling hills dropping away into Longdendale, the old Roman fort at Melandra, he had lived there as men had moved their settlements from one place to another, but this fold in the hills had been home for centuries. Now, it would be home no more. He turned his back on his past and rode away.

There were too many memories in those hills, memories soured by the friends he had buried in Scotland. He had never chosen to follow war, but when the war came to him, he had led his troops to battle. He never got used to the loss, though, or the tears of widows who would ask God why he had come home when their beloved husbands lay dead in graves that they would never see. So this time he had decided it was time to leave, to walk away from the memories and seek a new life in the unblemished vistas of the New World.

But there was one memory he could not, would not walk away from, one old friend who was as ageless as he was. So when he had reached London, he had not boarded a ship for the Americas, but had ridden on to Dover and taken a ship to France. His journey through the countryside had been uneventful, there being little evidence to the casual traveller of the horrors of the Revolution, but as he had approached Paris, that had changed. There were more militiamen on the road, more erstwhile protectors of the Revolution to stop and challenge him. At each challenge, he had kept his temper and that, coupled with his calm self-assurance, had been enough.

He had stopped for the night at a little inn just to the north of Paris, intending to arrive in the city midmorning. As he approached the city, he fancied he could hear it before he saw it, the hum of massed humanity carrying on the wind. He rode through the streets, heading for the river, the spire of Notre Dame an unmissable landmark. Lost in his thoughts, he almost didn't realise that the crowds were gathering in one of the squares and that he had become swept up in the flow of humanity. He was on the point of trying to pull his horse round and make his way out of the square when he felt her. He sat up straight in the saddle, trying to see who it was, and it was only when he did so that he took in the full scene before him.

The guillotine dominated the crowd, the blade drawn high, dull and stained with blood. Despite the numbers pouring into the open space, they seemed reluctant to approach this symbol of their freedom. From one side of the square, he could see the cart making its way through the baying mob towards the scaffold, the luckless sacrifices to Madame La Guillotine standing erect, crowded together in the small cart. But even though there was little room for them, it seemed to him that all but one were huddled together, whilst the one stared at them, not at the crowd, a handful of faded and withered flowers clutched in her hands.

She could be no more than sixteen, he thought. Without realising what he was doing, he urged his horse forward through the crowd, wanting to confirm his suspicion. As he got nearer to the cart, the girl suddenly reacted, staring around her, one hand clutching to her head as she felt him.

"Maman!", she cried to the woman in the cart with her, but the woman shrank back against her husband. He realised that he was looking at a family, man and wife and children, a son and a daughter marshalled together, waiting for the executioner's blade. And another daughter, an adopted daughter who had filled their hearts with joy but now terrified them. He could see the hole in her dress, the bloodstain that told its own story of a child shot dead by the soldiers when they came for her family, a child who had come back to life too soon for her own good.

A child now shunned by the only people she loved. A new born Immortal headed for the one death that she could not survive.

The cart reached the scaffold before he did and the family were forced up the steps, to the accompanying jeers of the crowd. The magistrate was reading from the charges against them, which to the horseman's limited French seemed to be that they had simply been aristocrats. He finished his proclamation, then turned back and gestured to the executioner. The man stared at the waiting doomed, then made his choice.

"Maman!" the girl cried as he took hold of her arm and dragged her forward, to the approving roar of the mob.

"Wait!" cried the horseman. There was a hush at this unexpected intervention, the crowd parting to let him ride the last few yards unhindered. The magistrate stared at him in annoyance, but the girl stared at him with the growing realisation that the sensation inside her head was caused by him. Hope stirred in her eyes at this unlikely turn of events.

"Identify yourself," the magistrate demanded.

"I am Anselm Roberts," replied the horseman.

"What business do you have here, m'sieur?" asked the magistrate. Anselm smiled.

"Who do I have the honour of addressing?" he asked.

"Jean Duvall."

"Well, Monsieur Duvall, my business is simple." Anselm pointed at the girl. "I want her." Duvall laughed.

"That is quite impossible, monsieur," he replied. "She is an enemy of the Revolution and she is to die."

"Surely such an innocent creature cannot be an enemy of anyone?" asked Anselm, as much of the crowd as of the magistrate. Some of the bystanders laughed. The terrified girl seemed no danger at all.

"Her family are aristocrats and refuse to accept the new order. They are to die and so is she."

"But they are not her family, are they?" asked Anselm. "She is adopted." There was consternation at this revelation from a stranger, the family all staring at each other with unspoken questions. The magistrate didn't know how to proceed. "Ask them," said Anselm, pointing at the parents. "They know that she is not their own flesh and blood." The girl was staring at him in wonder.

"It is true," said the mother, "she was brought to us and we raised her as our own. But she is a child of evil. The soldiers shot her when she ran from them, but still she lives. She deserves to die, not us."

"Quiet!" roared the magistrate. He turned back to Anselm. "You are too late here, m'sieur. They are all to die. Now withdraw and let us proceed."

"I don't think so," said Anselm, spurring his horse onwards. As it drew level with the scaffold, he vaulted from the saddle and, before Duvall realised what was happening, he found himself staring into Anselm's eyes, the Immortal's sword at his throat. "I want the girl," Anselm repeated, "and I won't take 'no' for an answer." The magistrate stared at him with fear and Anselm knowing he'd won, relaxed.

The gunshot took him completely by surprise, the small pistol in the magistrate's hand unseen until he staggered back. The bullet had lodged in his leg, Duvall so panicked that he had not raised his hand enough to inflict a fatal wound. The soldiers grabbed him, knocking his sword from his hand. He struggled, but the wound was making him feel nauseous.

"Don't waste your strength, monsieur," said the magistrate. "You will soon need it all." He gestured to the executioner, who forced the girl down onto the stage of the guillotine and trapped her head in the stock beneath the blade. Anselm stared in horror.

"For God's sake, let her go!" he pleaded. Duvall sneered at him and nodded to the executioner, who moved to the pin securing the blade. "What is your name?" Anselm asked the girl.

"Juliette," she said, as the blade began its rushing descent. Anselm stared at her severed head for a long moment, then he realised what would happen next.

"No!" he shouted. "No, for God's sake, let me go! I want no part of this! Let me go!" His struggles caught the soldiers holding him off guard, one of them falling from the scaffold to the ground, Anselm striking the other in the midriff, doubling him up, as he turned back to the magistrate.

The Quickening rose up from the scaffold and came for him. He saw the ghostly glow of all she had been as it reached out to embrace him and he waved at it wildly, as if he could deny what he was in that moment, as if he had a choice. Then he knew all she had been, he saw her running in the fields around their home with the brother and sister who had denied her in her darkest hour, he saw the life she had led, but more than that, he tasted her innocence and gentleness, the sweetness in her heart, the unsullied love she had to offer to those around her. He knew it all and the loss of it was darker and more bitter than the evil in the darkest of those he had beheaded across the centuries.

Then the world exploded around him as he felt her flow into him, her untested strength joining with his and driving him to his knees with the power of it. He was only vaguely aware of the guillotine collapsing as the Quickening took a casual vengeance on the engine that had unleashed it. The panicked cries of the fleeing crowd were drowned out by the searing of the Quickening, then it was over. As the smoke cleared, an eerie calm descended on the square. Anselm looked up to see the magistrate staring at him wordlessly, then his eyes saw his sword where it had fallen when the soldiers had seized him.

He never remembered picking it up, but the magistrate's face as he realised that this was the moment of his death remained with him forever. Anselm savoured the moment, then spun and cut the man's head from his shoulders with practised ease. The few soldiers not unmanned by the spectacle of the Quickening charged him, but they were no match for the Immortal, his rage at what they had done driving aside the effects of the Quickening, each man cut down as Anselm's sword cut a vicious swathe through all who stood in his way. The crowd parted as he walked from the square alone, the blood dripping from his sword.


The fall of evening had brought a quiet to the Latin Quarter that the priest always welcomed. These were trying times for him, so many good people living in terror, fearing for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. They found an escape in the sanctity of the confessional, sharing their fear with him, seeking reassurance that there would be an end to the terror. He tried to give that reassurance, offering a certainty borne more of his own centuries than any faith in the moment. Sometimes, being Immortal gave you a better perspective than those around you.

The last of his parishioners had shared a moment of honesty with him and left him sitting alone in the confessional. He found that taking a moment to gather his thoughts after hearing the confessions of those who sought forgiveness helped him put what he had heard out of his mind. Alone in the dark, he heard the sound of footsteps almost before he felt the approach of the other. He waited, assuming that whoever it was would join him, but the footsteps stopped before they reached him.

He pulled aside the curtain and walked out into the chapel. In the half light of the fading day, a solitary figure was stood in front of the altar, staring at the flowers adorning it.

"Hello, Darius," said the figure. A pause, then, "How are you?"

"Anselm?" said the priest. He approached the man, who didn't turn to look at him at first. From the side, it seemed to Darius that he had a wild look in his eyes. When Anselm finally turned his head to look at him, he saw that he was right.

"My God, what happened to you?" asked Darius.

"They killed her," came the reply. "They didn't care what she was, that she wasn't their child. A child. She was only a child, Darius, and they killed her. They cut off her head." He paused, as if that were enough, then repeated, "They cut off her head."

The answer made no sense of his question, but it told Darius enough. He moved closer to his friend, but Anselm shrugged him away angrily.

"We've spent centuries trying to help them, but for what? So that they can murder a child?" he said, spitting the words out with a venom that Darius could not remember hearing from him before. "How many times have they turned on you? How many have come begging for absolution again and again? How many? And they call it justice when they murdered her. For what? Being alive? Having the wrong parents? She was so young, Darius. She could have been so much." He was pleading now, looking make sense of the senseless.

"We can only help those we meet," said Darius. "There will always be those who chose violence over peace."

"Then why not us?" asked Anselm. He turned and stared back at the altar, at the flowers gracing it. "Should we not treat them as they treat each other?"

"No," said Darius. "If we are to do any good in this world, we must not fall into that way." There was no answer to this. "What brings you to Paris?" Darius asked. "You're a long way from home."

"I came to say goodbye," said Anselm. "And now I wish I'd never set foot in this accursed city." He turned to look at Darius. "It will haunt me forever. She will haunt me forever. How can I forgive them, Darius? How can I forget?"

"You cannot forget. It is our boon and our bane," said the priest. "But you can find it in your heart to forgive. I know you can. I know you," he finished simply.

"Perhaps not as well as you think," said Anselm. He shook his head gently, but his expression hardened. "I think it will be a long time before I forgive them for what they did."


Paris, 1999

"I left Darius and France behind me," Anselm finished. "The Americas were a new land and I could lose myself, try to forget her." The coffee cups on the table between them were cold, the hot aromatic liquid consumed long since.

"But you couldn't," said Amanda. "And when you found an Immortal child.... That's why you named her Juliette." He nodded.

"Yes. But she was in the wrong time and the wrong place. They both were. I started by being cruel to be kind, but it became a habit. The hate came from my heart. I became no different than any other man in my position. I was so angry, Amanda. Angry that they had killed her, angry that I couldn't save her, angry with her for not knowing what she was. And I took it out on her. I tried to save her by hiding her in what her mortal life would have been, but I dreaded another Immortal coming. There was one, a doctor, but I scared him away."

"I know," she said. "He's here. In Paris." He looked at her sharply. "I've known him for centuries," she said. "He was a friend of Rebecca as well."

"She never spoke of a 'Benjamin Adams'," he said. "Not that it matters. If he comes for me, I'll deal with him."

"So what happened afterwards?" asked Amanda.

"When the South fell, I looked for new frontiers. I headed west, but I took all my mistakes with me. Life was so much simpler centuries ago, but sooner or later you make your mistakes and they mount up. They never let go, no matter what you do. And you can never undo what you've done."

"So what brings you to Paris?" asked Amanda, trying to lift him from the dark mood descending on him. His reply was unexpected.

"I've come back for Darius."