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Old 01-28-2011, 11:31 PM   #301
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pg 250

“Spike!” Angle admonished again, growing a little more red-faced.

“Don’t, Spike, me!” The younger vampire complained. “A hundred twenty years ago, you’d have been over there in a tree, spying on them!”

“I’m sure I don’t want to know. It’s not a live porn -,” Duncan started to argue before he noticed the platinum-blond’s raised brow. “Alright! It is. But we shouldn’t watch – or listen.”

Angel deliberately turned to look back over their camp. Raising his hands to his ears he said, “I’m really trying not to hear them. But he’s enjoying it.”



The thought started passing dimly through Katriona’s brain, What are you sucking on? It feels pretty real for a hallucination or this is all a dream and you’re in a jungle sucking on something you maybe shouldn't. Rearing back to look up his long torso she gasped loudly in shock, “You’re real!”

“Aye! I thought we’d established that,” her husband objected in amusement. “Shhh. The camp’s close and I don’t know how well the vampires hear.”

“You’re real!” she repeated more quietly.

“Aye. I’m real. You’re real,” Kendall confirmed. Lifting Katriona up by her shoulders he kissed her deeply before moving down her neck, whispering against her throat, “What did you think I was?”

“A hallucination,” Katriona replied uncertainly. Wrapping her arms around his back.

“No hallucination, rún mo chroí,” he breathed against her ear. “I’m very real. You’re real. I’m-so-sorry-about-the-other-night,” he blurted in a rush. “I was an idiot! A fool! I’m sorry I started that fight o’er nothing. You want to feed the birds, you go right ahead and feed the damned birds.”

“You’re here,” Katriona said, dimly trying to process the information.

“Aye, love of my heart,” he repeated the endearment as he gently pushed her up against a Yopo tree. “Would I be a total pig if I asked you to finish what you started?” He asked, unzippering her jeans to push his hands along the curve of her backside. “I’ve told you it’s not good for a lad to get stopped in the middle of something like this. It could cause a man grievous harm.”

Continuing to nuzzle her throat, Kendall couldn’t see Katriona’s raised a brow as she sputtered with gleeful disbelieve, “Grievous harm? How many centuries have you been trying to tell me that?”
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Old 01-28-2011, 11:31 PM   #302
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pg 251

“Almost sixteen, lass. I seem to have to keep repeatin’ myself with you though, my love,” he teasingly admonished pushing her jeans over her hips to fall down her legs. Lifting her up, he rub against the warm place at the juncture of her thighs he so desired causing his woman to gasp. Covering her mouth with his, Katriona whimpered against Kendall’s lips as he pushed into her. After a long moment he whispered against her lips, “And I’ll keep repeating m’self,” he insisted, “until ye begin to believe me, lass.”

“That might take ano’r sixteen centuries,” his wife softly moaned.

“I’m a patient man,” Kendall sighed tolerantly, nuzzling down her collarbone and finding a comfortable rhythm that had him rapidly rising near climax. “Gods I want inside you. I always want inside you.”

“Oh I love the feel of you,” Katriona whimpered in Gaelic.



“What are you three up to?” Willow poked her head out of her tent quietly demanding so as not to wake the others.

“Trying very hard not to hear what’s going bump-ditty-bump in the night,” Spike harrumphed indignantly. “Get a room!” He called more loudly.

“What,” the ginger-haired witch inquired in bafflement.

“They think Katriona managed to escape and find us,” Duncan explained.

“Then why aren’t you going out there and find her?” The younger woman quickly crawled from her tent indignantly demanding.

“Because her husband already has,” Angel said to the tree canopy.

“It wouldn’t be seemly unless they’re into groups,” Spike admonished in a mildly pompous tone that suddenly turned to an interested leer. “You don’t suppose they’re into groups, do you? Ow!” he indignantly objected when Angel smacked him across the back of his head. “We need to find you a woman, mate.” The younger vampire grumbled in complaint, rubbing at the offended spot. “And if she happens to have a sister,” he grinned under Willow’s dark glare. “Wot? You may have chosen to pitch for the home team Red, but I sure as bloody ’ell don’t.”



“Did you hear something,” Katriona whispered against Kendall’s left nipple.

“I said I wasn’t sure how well the vampires could hear, or maybe it’s the horses, shhhh…” the relieved man whispered back without missing a stroke. “I feared I’d never hold ye again, lass. I swear I’m sorry for that argument. I never shou -”

“We were arguing? I thought we were sparring.” Katriona interrupted him, raising her head to take his face in her hands and kiss him. Happily groaning against his lips, “Now shush yerself. Who’s talking too much now?”

*****
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:13 PM   #303
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pg 252

Ériu sat perched on a high branch using its cover as she nursed her wing muttering imprecations on the warrior that had hit her with a rock. *That hurt!* She complained to her older sister perched beside her.

*Bái Hǔ!* Athena called, coming to roost next to the Morrigans. *Have you gotten the woman away?* The Autumnal Warrior roared his confirmation to the accomplishment of his mission from somewhere nearby before he bit into the Dark Hound’s throat, ripping it out and shaking it like a rag doll. With the determined nod of a General whose battle strategy proceeded as planned, the Greek War goddess called out, *Ololodi! Break off the attack! It’s time for us to leave!*

The Caribbean Voodoo Mother shrieked her defiance, intent on harrying down another of her rebellious children. *I told you she would be difficult to work with,* Ériu groused with an angry ruffle of feathers.

*Yes, you did. But she came of her own volition and has as much at stake as we.* Athena replied. *Ololodi, unless you can get your beak on Eminán’s heart - break off your attack! Now! It is time to withdraw. We leave with you or with out you! Can you fly,* she asked Ériu.

*I’ll bloody well fly out of here,* The Morrigan cawed. *It will take more than a lucky rock to take me out. I just needed a moment to catch my breath.*

Bái Hǔ raced toward them through the night in a shimmering trail of starlight. Rushing through the camp, he scattered lean-tos and several smaller cooking fires causing further confusion amongst the mortals. *Good man!* Ériu shrieked after the Chinese Constellation, taking flight for a final strafing run on her way out of the camp followed by Athena, Grian, and lastly a bitterly complaining Ololodi.


*****
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:14 PM   #304
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pg 253

Araceli glared around the wreckage of the Ábą Eminánie’s camp and stormed toward the fallen lean-to that had housed her sacrifice, ignoring the injured and confused in her path. Dread welled in her heart as she kicked aside branches in search of the woman. Becoming more frantic she began to throw the limbs aside knowing that somehow the sacrifice had managed to escape. The priestess had warned her people that many gods would stand against her efforts to free Momrath Eminán and her warriors had failed to protect the camp.

With a scream of primal animal rage the demon driven woman picked up the remnants of the ropes that had bound her sacrifice. Hurriedly uttering her focusing chant for the All Seeing Eye, Araceli followed the gossamer trail following Katriona out of camp and continued questing out in search of her sacrifice in the hopes of tracking her. With a growl of thwarted frustration she found it disappeared a half mile from the camp into nothingness.

“Which way priestess?” Jahlis eagerly questioned, pushing past Saraguro and Kore to return to her heels.

Her black look of malevolence turned on the two older Ábą Eminánie shying behind her acolyte and she flew at Kore. Grabbing the young man by the throat, she shook his body, squeezing tighter she cut off his air heedless of his struggles. Saraguro tried one handed to pry her off, but Araceli backhanded him so hard he flew backwards into a tree many yards away. Cracking his skull the young man slid to the ground, senseless. Continuing to push down on the other young offender the demon driven woman pressed her weight behind her hand, ignoring Kore’s slowing flailing attempts to beat her off until he ceased to breath. Too late, Yuti and Raöul arrived to stop her and they stared dumbfounded at her two victims.

Rising to her feet, Araceli ordered, “We leave for Momrath Eminán’s tomb tonight. Jahlis, gather our people. Tell them to leave everything for we travel light.”

“Immediately Priestess,” the young man eagerly acknowledged. Running off, he called out to those he passed, “We leave now!”

“Priestess,” Guapi gulped back his dismay at the sight of Saraguro bleeding from his nose and ears as he limped up. The baleful gaze she turned on him quelled his objections on his tongue. With a swish of her skirts the woman turned away from the three men to start toward home. Storming through the camp she began setting a hard pace that she expected all to follow.

With a dark look following the woman’s retreating back, Yuti quietly said, “I fear that is no longer our Priestess.”

“What do we do,” Guapi whispered in dismay.

Kneeling over Kore’s body, Yuti checked to see if there was any life remaining in the young man. Finding no sign, he moved over to Saraguro and found a small flutter still beating. “He still lives,” the older man informed his two companions. “But not for long, I fear.” Gently picking the young man up, he turned toward the mission. “It may be a useless gesture, but I am going to try to get Saraguro help. You may come with me or go with her as you wish.”
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:16 PM   #305
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pg 254

“Wait Yuti. You cannot expect to carry him all the way back to the mission without help. Chupall,” Raöul addressed the fourth of their party to join them with a stunned expression. “Dig out the stretcher we carried the woman on and go with Yuti. I will stay and try to assure Soba and Kore have at least some hope of being accepted into the afterlife by our ancestors.” Raöul announced. “Guapi, try to find Téyuna and any others of our group who are having their doubts, then see if you cannot keep them from taking the children. Perhaps swipe them away, if you must. I fear we have been badly misled and this will all end horribly wrong, my friends.”


*****


Kore looked down on his body in bafflement. He was vainly trying to make Yuti or Raöul hear him when he heard Soba behind him sadly say, “It is no use. They can not hear us any longer.”

*What? Soba! You live!* Kore cried out in joyous confusion.

*No my friend. You have died, I’m afraid,* Soba solemnly informed him.

*Your friend is right.* A tall, fair-skinned stranger solemnly interupted, startling the two age-mates. Slipping out from behind a nearby Yobo as Yuti and Chupall gently lifted Saraguro’s body onto the stretcher to carry him back to the mission in search of help, Macha leaned on her long bow as her smaller, lithe blond sister eased from behind another tree. Arrow knocked in her own slackened bow the younger goddess’ blue eyes continued searching the night behind them.

Beckoning the two to them, the elder Morrigan gently informed the young men. *You might as well come with us. For your Priestess is no longer the shaman she was and has no intention of paving the way to your afterlife. We will petition your ancestors to accept you to their bosoms. You too, young one.* She said, addressing Saraguro’s spirit still sitting on the ground. *You won’t survive the trip they are taking you on without medical assistance. And the assistance you need is very far away indeed even with today’s medical advances. You can remain with your broken body, or come with my sister and me, now. But either way, you will not make it out of this injury alive. I have seen such injuries as yours and without immediate treatment, your death is imminent.*

*Who are you,* Kore asked in wonderment. *What are you?*
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:17 PM   #306
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pg 255

With an imperious nod of her head the Morrigan informed the trio, *I am Macha. This is my sister Fódla. We are War Goddesses of another warrior people much like your own people and guides to their final rest. In these troubled times, since we are in the vicinity, we will have to do as your guides as well.* At the three young men’s unspoken question between themselves, ‘She of the red tresses’ smirked, *Or you can just continue wandering in this realm between worlds and hope your own gods come to find you in time. I am sure they will eventually. However, though your kinsman means well, I don’t think he quite knows the proper incantations to call them quickly and this is a very confusing night. All those that would stand against the darkness your priestess would see released from the prison he was locked away many millennia ago, so that mankind might thrive, make ready for battle and are rather busy. Distracted by far more pressing matters.*

*And you should be warned,* Fódla whispered, *that as so stands the light, there are also many other gods and demons around at present that would love a tasty soul to devour should you accidentally cross their paths. This would not usually be an issue and you could find the light well enough on your own, however, these are troubled times we pass through.*

With a worried gaze over his shoulder for just such a creature he feared had been nearly on his heels for much of the day, Soba suggested, *I think we should go with them my friends. I’ve been hearing creatures in the jungle. And being a shade is really not much fun.*

Shaking his head between his hands, Saraguro sighed before standing up. *Oh well. Then if you would lead us, we would be honored for your time, Ladies. Come on, Kore. I hate to say it, but you were right.*

*Our people,* Kore demanded.

*Some will make it, some -*, Macha started to tell him before a hair raising snarl came from a short distance away and Fódla squeaked back her fears. With a worried frown the older goddess turned to escort the three youths admonishing, *We really must go.* Her skirts flaring wide in the slight breeze, Macha set a brisk pace as she all but flew. Quickly stepping to follow her sister, Fódla’s long sleeves bellowed out too, much like the wings of a bird in the young men’s minds as they followed the two strange women to their final rests.


*****
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:17 AM   #307
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pg 256

“We can find you both a woman later,” Willow chastised. “Heck, we can all find of us a woman later. For now, though, we need to drop camp and follow the Ábą Eminánie. If Katriona’s escaped there’s no knowing what they might try. If they don’t come looking her, they will most likely start for Momrath’s temple the minute they find her missing and we can’t let them have the time to prepare for the ceremony.”

“What,” Spike tried objecting. “There’s no moon tonight! Angel and I might be able to follow in the dark, but how are the rest of you supposed to make it through the jungle without night vision glasses? Which, the last I checked, we didn’t have.”

“I hate to say this Willow, but he’s got a point.” Angel chimed in.

“Point or not,” the witch continued as she pulled on her boots, “they still have the heart, which means they can still try to release this demigod. And depending on their own sources they might come looking for her or try with another sacrifice. I’m not clear on whether or not it will work as they plan without someone that was given it freely. But the consequences could still be dire. Especially if just anyone will do!”

“How dire are we talking?” The Highlander inquired.

Willow finished tying up her boot, biting her lip uncertainly before finally admitting, “I’m not really sure. That part of the text was singed off like it had been caught in a fire at some point. Wesley isn’t exactly clear because he’s found more than one conflicting reference, but Lorne and I think it might have to be someone that was given the stone. I just don’t know if I can trust the templates. They haven’t always been forthcoming since Angel took them from Wolfram and Hart. Sometimes they work; sometimes I suspect they have been tampered with. But a number of the sources seemingly contradict the passage from the scroll I read. In which case, just any old body will do if they throw enough bodies at this evil clown.”

“Will, ever since Wes started suspecting the templates were being tampered with he keyed everything to his own library. But we should work on the assumption that Wolfram and Hart could be trying to meddle with affairs,” Angel informed MacLeod.

“Who is Wolfram and Hart,” Duncan asked.

“A world-wide uber-evil law firm we once tried changing from the inside. Someone or something under their retainer could even be pushing for this Big Bad’s release,” Spike piped in as he walked over to Wesley’s tent quietly calling. “Wes! It’s time to hit the trail!”

“Isn’t that just special!” Duncan grumped under his breath. “Fitz, Greg, Adam, Amanda! Better wake up! We’re moving out.”

“Wha…” Greg called out snapping awake and reaching for the El Cid he no longer had.

Rolling over in his bed-roll, Fitzcairn opened one bleary eye complaining to his bunkmate, “Did the daft Scot just say we’re hitting the trail? It’s a new moon tonight! How are we ever supposed see to keep from falling on our noses?”

“Katriona escaped and she’s found us,” MacLeod said, poking his head into their tent.

“She has?” Fitzcairn’s tone brightened. “Always said she was a resourceful lass. I say let the happy couple greet each other properly and let me sleep until dawn.”
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:19 AM   #308
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“Get up!” the Highlander growled, kicking the Englishman’s feet in admonition. “Willow is of the opinion, and I have to agree with her, that since she has escaped the Ábą Eminánie are libel to either come looking for their sacrifice, or bolt for this Momrath’s temple the moment they discover her missing.”

“Of course they would, old chap,” Fitz sat up grumbling.

“C’mon, old chap,” Greg scoffed, pulling on his shoes. “What was all that talk back in Seacouver about rescuing the girl, stopping the bad guys, and saving the world?”

“But why does being the hero never let a man get a decent night’s sleep?” Fitzcairn petulantly questioned, beginning to pull on his own hiking boots.

*****


The Egyptian growled low in her throat at the activity suddenly taking place around the long-lived mortals’ camp. Ammut lifted her crocodile head up rustling the undergrowth near the Immortals camp to sniff the night wind. Flexing her great leopard shoulders she readied to pounce. Beside her Sekhmet shook her lioness head assuring her companion, *Patience, my old friend. You will get to drink their blood soon enough. For now, we cannot deal with such as those on our own. We will follow and gather a few allies first. Then we will attack!*

Al-Qaum and Ta’lab snuck up behind the two goddesses. Tapping Sekhmet on her shoulder, Al-Quam mischievously stepped to her other side as she turned to look over the tapped shoulder, *Perhaps these ladies should have consulted with your oracle before moving against those enjoying the patronage of the Protector of Caravans. Don’t you think, my friend?* He smirked to the moon god of Sheba.

*They most certainly should have, Al-Qua!* The shared joke heavy in Ta’lab’s humorous reply. *For it is a foolish goddess indeed that goes against the Nabataean god of war. Good evening ladies. Might we gentlemen escort you somewhere before some foul creature that is out this night attacks you from the shadows? There are many, as I understand, and such tasty morsels as yourselves might fall afoul of them if you aren’t careful.*

Sekhmet growled in frustration to Ammut. Turning to the Arabian gods the Egyptian drew herself up to her full regal height in an attempt to intimidate and dismiss the two ancients, *My sister and I thank you kind gentlemen for your offer, but we have business to attend this night. So we will be off.*

*But wait,* Al-Qaum imperiously held his riding crop before the daughter of Re to prevent her from leaving.*I fear your business is interfering with the party under my protection, Fire lady. If that is the case, than the Devourer, you, and I, may be at odds. We can not and will not allow Eminán’s release from his prison. It would be so much more pleasant if you voluntarily returned to our camp with us. We have hot jasmine tea, fresh figs, dates, and Ta’lab’s servant set a young lamb to roasting for our meal.*
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:21 AM   #309
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pgs 258 - 259

*And that Tuatha de Danann Harper, Abhean, said he might try to stop by and dine with us this night,* Ta’lab reminded his companion. Informing the ladies with a broad smile, *We’re going to try and - jam, I believe the mortals call it now. It should be an excellent evening of good food and entertainment.*



*****



Kendall led Katriona back to their camp to find everyone up, packed and the animals saddled, ready to leave. “Hey! Look who I found wandering around the… What’s going on?” he asked, his voice trailing off as he looked around the state of readiness to depart.

“Time to head out!” Greg announced entirely too cheerfully for the early morning hour. Giving Katriona a gentle clap on the arm, he pulled his penlight out to check her eyes. “How are you feeling?” he inquired observing her pupils sluggish reaction to the light.

“Alright mostly. Like I’ve had another bout of Marsh Fever or been drugged for the last… How long have I been – Amanda! What’re you doing here?” Katriona cried out, the sight of the lithe brunette distracting her reply about her health.

“Your husband stole my boat.” The younger Immortal woman informed her, pushing the men aside to hug her old friend.

“I’d say she’s still under the influence,” Greg announced to anyone who listened.

“He stole your boat? Kendall,” the auburn-haired woman chided.

“I only borrowed it!” The sandy-blond petulantly objected. “She’s getting it back and in one piece. I even told Fitz I’d fill the tank, scrub her down, and give the ol’ girl’s hull a scrape.”

“And you will too,” the Immortal thief huffed. “He cost me a quarter of a million dollars,” Amanda informed Katriona.

“And where’s your boat,” Kendall quietly growled in challenge.

“Kendall,” Katriona gently admonished.

“I only borrowed it to come after you,” he argued. “And a quarter of a million,” his voice rose incredulously. “I sold it to you for three thousand when it was built!”

Amanda started to say something scathing, but at the look the older Immortal settled on his wife the semi-reformed thief changed her mind and sighed. Pursing her lips, she good-naturedly complained. “That was almost eighty-five years ago and I’ve had her engines refitted and all the navigational systems upgraded since then! Besides, I wasn’t really going to sell it! That was my commission for bringing in a scam artist someone I occasionally work with is trying to arrest. What am I suppose to do about you Ceanndal O’Laidhgnén?”

“No, no! This one’s mine,” Katriona winked. “You took a shine to tha’ tall, dark-haired Scot’s laddie o’r there with the nice butt and strong thighs.”

“I think she means you, laddie,” Methos teased, smacking MacLeod on the aforementioned portion of his anatomy.

Under Kendall’s censorious look of indignation, Methos’ amused smirks, and Amanda and MacLeod’s varying expressions of embarrassment, Katriona defended herself, “Rebecca said it, I didn’t!”

“Definitely still a little trashed,” Greg chuckled. “Well, are we hitting the trail or talk about Mac’s butt, people?”

“Where are we going?” Katriona inquired in bafflement.

“We’re off to see the Wizard,” * Kendall informed her cryptically. “We need to stop those people that abducted you from using that pendant I bought you to raise their imprisoned god. It’s a long story, I’ll tell you along the way.”

“Actually, Katriona probably shouldn’t go.” Willow piped up uncertainly.

“What,” several of the party suddenly inquired in varying tones of confusion and bewilderment.
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Old 01-31-2011, 10:24 PM   #310
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pgs 259.5 - 260

“Think about it. Kendall gave the pendant to her. She’s the last person to have held it as a freely given gift. In which case they might actually need her as their sacrifice! If the scroll is right and the template is confused or lying, that means they need her. If she’s with us that gives the Ábą Eminánie another chance to get her back and try to sacrifice her to raise Momrath. We can’t be protecting her and trying to stop them at the same time! It would be easier if she wasn’t anywhere near there. Without her there we only have to worry about stopping them.”

“No, no!” Katriona objected, vigorously shaking her head. “Where he goes, I go. We’re a package deal. I watch his back. He watches mine.”

Thoughtfully rubbing his chin, Duncan knew what he was about to say would divide Kendall’s loyalties and he tentatively suggest, “Perhaps you should take Katriona back to El Encanto, Ken. That way she’s not near the temple if they try to raise this demi-god and -”

“Can’t,” Kendall shook his head in negation to the Highlander’s plan. “As much as I’d like nothing more than to get her out of here and back to Seacouver, I gave the Morrigans my word. I know that may sound cliché in this day and age, but it still means something to me. They helped me get her back. I help them keep this god imprisoned. Áine and Magda seemed fairly certain I might be the only one that could fight him if it gets right down to the wire.”

“Áine said pretty much the same to us when she came to us with this problem,” Angel said, confirming Kendall’s argument. “I’m not sure why, but he has to come with us. Or the Sisters think he has to.”

“Then I’m coming too,” Katriona announced, picking up a sack she thought was Kendall’s. “Where’s m’ cutlass? I see yours luv, but where’s mine?”

“You tell her,” Kendall said, pointing at MacLeod. “You’re the one that left it.”

“You’re her husband! She won’t maim or kill you!” the Highlander objected defensively.

“Much,” Greg chuckled under his breath.

“Then maim you again, just so she can kill you more slowly the second time,” Fitzcairn protested from behind the taller Scot.

“What’d they do to my sword?” the redhead in question’s tone hardened with concern as she looked up to her husband for an answer.

Tilting his head, Kendall gave the two younger Immortals a rather disgusted look for their less than courageous attitudes before explaining. “We had a bit of a run in with some cartel lads coming down river. Thanks to Jack Sparrow! And we wound up having to pull a Congo.”

Katriona’s eyes grew large in disbelieve and her voice grew slightly higher pitched as she scoffed, “You did not pull a Congo! What made you try it again after it didn’t work the first time?”

“Practice makes perfect?” Kendall grinned disarmingly.

“We’ll get you a new one,” MacLeod blurted out.

“A better one,” Fitzcairn interjected from behind the taller Scot.

“Oh, aye?” Katriona cried out, so upset over the development her accent heavily tinged her words. “What’s better than a cutlass from the forge of Hamza el Kahir’s Granada days, before Isabella drove the Moors from Spain? Cutlasses weren’t usually his style! Maybe one of his finest pieces, he said, plain though it was. Took me a pretty piece o’ talkin’ to get him to make it for a woman! Not to mention half me leg, an arm, and a promise to find a way to forgive my husband. Hamza claimed he’d heard the stories of us. He’d make it if I could find a way to return to Kendall. Been a part o’ me for -”
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Old 01-31-2011, 10:27 PM   #311
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pg 261

“We’ll find you a more than adequate one,” Duncan offered uncomfortably.

“Oh aye! You’re damned straight ye will be laddie!” Katriona uttered angrily, hitching the pack on her shoulder more securely. “No hope for it then, I suppose.” Suddenly brightening with an idea she asked, “Ye don’t think it could be on the bottom o’ the river maybe? Perhaps we could try to dive for it! If ye recall -” at the three men’s expressions, the redhead sighed unhappily. “Worked well this time, I take it.”

Marching off in the direction she recalled coming, so she wouldn’t start knocking heads together Katriona groused, “No use cryin’ o’r spilled milk, I suppose. But the bloody thing’s been an extension o’ me right arm since -”

“Where are you going,” Kendall called after her.

“Last I remember, you were sayin’ something about a god or something that needed stopping,” the redhead snapped back unhappily. “So are we goin’ or aren’t we?”

“You aren’t,” her husband replied.

“Like bloody ’ell I’m not!”

“Oh are you ever in trouble,” Methos said quietly to MacLeod. “You forget to grab your student’s sword and hers. A one of a kind piece most likely. Hamza wasn’t in the habit of arming women.”

“Shut up, Adam. We were a little busy,” the Highlander muttered before joining the chorus of, “Katriona, you can’t go.”

“Like bloody ’ell I can’t!” She repeated more forcefully just as Kendall ran after her.

Grabbing the smaller woman by the arm, he pulled her around to stop her, demanding, “Humor me.”

“No!” She snapped up at him. “If you’re goin’, I’m not leaving you to stand up to ano’er god without me to guard your back! The first time was just plain dumb luck! What are ye goin’ on this time, lad? Your good looks?

Kendall’s expression twisted in pained contrition indicating what he was about to do bothered him enormously. “I am truly sorry about this, luv, but you are leaving me no choice,” he apologized just before drawing back and punching her hard enough across the temple to render Katriona unconscious. Catching her falling body as she wilted to the ground, he contritely lifted her into his arms.

“What did you…,” Willow gasped in shock.

Sadly murmuring against the swelling bruise, he continued apologizing, “I am so, so sorry, lass. Believe me, this hurt me more. But we’ve not the time for this and you are not going anywhere near that tomb if there’s even the remotest chance they’ll try to sacrifice you. I just couldn’t bear it.”
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Old 01-31-2011, 10:28 PM   #312
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Default Chapter 12 ~ pgs 262 - 263

“You hit her!” The witch indignantly berated the sandy-blond.

“Aye! What would you have me do? Stab her? She’s clubbed me pretty hard a time ’r three herself o’r the years,” he snapped back miserably. “I’m pretty sure she’s still got a few on me and we don’t have the time to stand around all night trying to convince her she can’t go with us and I gave my word I would! The Morrigans held up their end o’ the bargain. It’s time I held up mine.”

“But who’s supposed to stay with her, you idiot,” Amanda demanded.

“Willow,” Spike calmly announced into the rising voices.

“What,” the ginger-haired witch turned questioning the vampire.

“You’re taking the packhorse and taking her back to El Encanto, Red.” the platinum-blond solemnly informed her.

“No I’m not!”

Yes. You are.” Wesley interrupted her obviously building argument, seeing where the younger vampire’s thoughts were going. “You can’t go anywhere near their temple. You shouldn’t. If their priestess starts the ceremony, there will be enough errant magic in the air -”

“But -”

“Spike and Wesley are right, Willow,” Angel spoke up. “It’ll be too great a temptation. We can’t let you. For your own safety, you shouldn’t go near there.”

“You possess enough magic,” Wesley continued, “should you fall into their hands, or you fall off the wagon, the consequences could be as dire as if they were able to get their hands on her. We can’t risk that. You’re too special! And there will be enough dark forces at work that you will all but be a siren’s call. You’ve crossed that line once before. We can’t risk putting you in a position you might be called again. Granted, this time will be well intentioned, I’m sure. But even good intentions can sometimes end badly. We don’t want to see that for you. We won’t ask that of you. I believe I will be able to handle it if it comes to the use of magic.”

“Willow, I’ve been worried I was sending you into temptation since you came down here. You found where the tomb is most likely located without actually going there. You’ve been an invaluable source of assistance in getting us this far. I won’t ask you to go any further. In fact, I’m telling you to go back.”

“But Angel,” Willow tried arguing.

“I could coldcock her too,” Kendall offered. “I really hate hitting a woman, but -”

“Nooo,” Willow moaned in acquiescence under Angel’s concerned gaze. “All right! I hate admitting it, but you might be right. I shouldn’t. Guys,” the witch moaned miserably.

Taking her by the shoulders, Angel smiled down on the smaller woman, “We’ll be alright. We’ll see you back in El Encanto in a few days. By now, Lorne might really need you more than we do. The vibrations off this jungle were really getting on his nerves and as long as Joe’s back there, he won’t leave his post. We can’t ask that of him either, if he really needs to be going.”

“Maybe you should go with them, Amanda.” Duncan started suggesting.

“Don’t you start, MacLeod.” Amanda shook her head with a tolerant smile. “I know you’re the eternal big Boy Scout, that’s why I love you so much. However, you might actually need a master thief on this jaunt. Believe me; I plan on keeping your nice butt and strong thighs between any waking gods and me. But I know a thing or two about breaking into impenetrable fortresses and who do you know that’s better? No one. That’s who!”

“Oh, I could probably think of a thing or two,” Methos drawled. “But I could also use someone that knew what she was doing if it comes to that. Now are we going to get going before Katriona comes to, or did you get me up at midnight for nothing?”




* Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, originally published by the George M. Hill Company Published 1900. Movie adaptation released, 25 August 1939 (USA). MGM Studios
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:13 AM   #313
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 264

Chapter 13
To Raise A God




Araceli’s single-minded pace forced many of those following her to trot in their effort to keep up. The snarls, hisses, and screaming cries of fighting from the jungle kept the group moving with little haranguing on their leader’s part and added speed to their steps when they began to falter. Jahlis strode alongside her, eagerly inquiring, “Where are we going, Priestess? Our village lies that way.” He said, pointing a few degrees southeast of their current course.

“I know. We are going directly to Momrath Eminán’s Temple. Once there, if all is ready, we will cleanse ourselves in the waters of the stream. Then we will seek meaning before his altar. Fasting until sundown when we will begin our ceremony to release him from his prison and regain our peoples rightful destiny.”

“And what of our families,” Toco asked. “Should we not bring them to the ceremony so that they may also participate? Would not Momrath Eminán want them to come and witness this great moment too?”

“Those of our families and many who have joined us before now should already be working to cleanse Momrath Eminán’s Temple. Clearing the land from around and bringing it to its former glory. Preparing Momrath Eminán’s Holy Place for his return to show that we are truly his faithful servants,” Araceli preened. “We will not return to our village until after we have accomplished our goal. For I fear that there are many that would stand against us if they knew we were this close to raising our god. Just as Lokono of the Totoró, Uúni of the Tariano, and Karaya and Rosa of the Taino came to dissuade us from our path. They would have called down warriors of the other tribes to stop us if we had not prevented them first. Even those in our own village could turn against us.”

Looking behind them Jahlis pointed out, “I think we have left Yuti, Raöul -”

“They are lost to us!” Araceli snapped testily, “Do not speak their names again! They have turned from our path and allowed the foreign gods that attacked us to sway their hearts.”

Toco cringed at a scream from the forest, tentatively questioning, “Kore -”

“Kore’s heart was turned. His thinking became twisted and he was turning Saraguro’s resolve against us too. I should never have allowed them to study at the mission where the foreigners poisoned their minds to us. As much as it pained me they had to be punished for their lack of faith and will find further punishment in the afterlife where Momrath Eminán will discipline them harshly and deny them peace. You two, however, are my rocks. My brave warriors. Resolved to see this through and bring us back to our peoples’ glory. You will both assist me in the reawakening of our god. But first we will need a new sacrifice to appease and welcome Momrath Eminán. It would have been best to have the woman that desecrated his heart; however, as our ancestors sacrificed their virgins and their young warriors, the most powerful of all sacrifices was their children.”
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:14 AM   #314
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 265

“You mean to sacrifice a little one,” Toco asked uneasily.

Araceli’s gaze quelled any further questioning. “The most profound sacrifice of our people to our gods always came from our hearts. So as our ancestors sacrificed to him, so we shall as well. After we have returned to the Temple you will gather up the children that are with us and I shall examine them for the two that will be most acceptable in our god’s eyes.”


*****


Setting off at a brisk pace, the joined forces of Angel Investigations and Immortals followed the topographical map Wesley had marked the most likely location of Momrath Eminán’s Temple on. The accumulated Intel of the past week indicated they were searching for a rise in the countryside surrounded by what would have once been a fair-sized town. They had been riding for nearly five hours when Spike querulously inquired from the back of the group, “Are we there yet?”

“Spike, shut up,” Angel snapped impatiently. “If you ask that one more time, so help me, I’ll -”

“Stop the animals and tan your arse,” Kendall filled in. Pulling his horse up, he swung down asking, “Can I see that map, Wesley? I’d just like to make sure we are heading in the right direction.”

Silently grateful for the respite that would allow him to stretch his legs after the unaccustomed length of time in the saddle, Wesley slid down from his own horse. Handing the map case over to the taller Immortal he asked, “Did you at least have the time to ask Katriona where the Ábą Eminánie were camped before she escaped?”

“I don’t think she’d have known, even if she was making sense,” Kendall informed him. Kneeling down, he spread the map open on the ground and pulled his compass from his pocket. Glancing at his watch before taking a quick note of the position of the stars above, he noted their locations before estimating their distance.

“You know, they probably have an app for that now,” Spike offered helpfully.

“Do they have an app to make you focus,” Kendall growled.

“Not yet,” Wesley replied with a glare of irritation for his associate. “But the moment they make one, I’ll be one of the first to download it.”

“Line starts behind me.” Angel said, swinging down from his own mount glaring pointedly up at Spike.
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:15 AM   #315
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 266

Peering over Kendall’s shoulder to shine her flashlight on the paper, Amanda sighed. “Boys, if you can’t behave I’m going to let Uncle Kendall start knocking heads together and you don’t want him knocking heads together. Ken, I believe we crossed that stream fifteen minutes ago,” she said, pointing out a feature on the paper. “See the strange squiggly bend in it.”

“And there’s the waterfall a half hour back,” Methos added from over his other shoulder. “For not having decent information, that man Gibbs maps are certainly detailed.”

“We passed that rock formation over an hour ago.” Duncan said, focusing his flashlight into a narrow beam to keep from blinding them all.

“Good. We’re steady on course, then. We keep heading eastward, angling south just a degree or two should put us at these rapids we’ll need to find a way to cross in another hour.”

“Is that a bridge just above them,” Wesley asked, pointing out an icon on the map.
“Looks like,” Kendall drawled. “Would be nice if we could pick up a clearly marked trail, but I might as well be asking for a clear day with a steady following breeze while I was at it. There’s indication of a village between us and those rapids. As long as we can keep finding landmarks we should hopefully be able to catch up to them before they have time to start this shindig. Surely there’s bound to be some sort of ritual before hand. There’s always at least a cleansing or a prescribed period of fasting before most ceremonies. You don’t go to meet your gods with an unclean spirit after all. It’s just not seemly.”

“Hardly,” Wesley confirmed.

“If we’re in luck, they’ll follow some old rituals of the Arawaks,” Methos slowly suggested. “Which could mean that we still have hours yet to catch up with them. I recall attending a few ceremonies when I made it down here. There was this one sacrifice I remember, the ceremony took from sunrise of the first morning to sundown of the next day.”

“I said he smelled old,” Spike stage-whispered to no one in particular.

“That’s your ass,” Methos smiled up at the vampire indicating the assorted animals they had been forced to rely on.

“We could only be so lucky,” Kendall muttered in response to the ancient Immortal’s words as he rolled up the map. Taking another bearing with his compass he announced, “We won’t get there standing around here. Let’s move.”

Taking up a spot near the back of the group again Spike inquired, “Are you sure we’re not there yet?”
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:16 AM   #316
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 267

“No child,” Methos snapped. “And if you ask again, I’ll be the one to pull the car over and spank you.”

“But we aren’t driving a – OW!” Spike indignantly objected when Greg smacked him across the back of his head as he trotted by. “He touched me!”

“Greg, quit touching him!” Amanda snapped impatiently. “Don’t make me come back there and separate you two.”

“Ya know, we’re in the midst of a jungle. All kinds of wood to be made into stakes,” Kendall quietly growled.

“Oh no. That line forms behind me too!” Angel said with a significant look back to his ‘grandson’. “If anyone’s staking him, I’ve got first dibs.”

“At this rate, they’ll hear us coming over a mile away,” Methos complained in annoyance. Adding uneasily at a particularly loud snarl that sounded suspiciously like a panther when it attacked another creature not too far off, “Not to mention attracting a few of whatever is out there.”

“And another thing,” Spike complained. “Why do I have to ride the ass?”

Methos was about to deliver a scathing retort when Wesley beat him to the punch, chiding. “We figured you would do well with your own kind. Besides, if you had perhaps told Kendall that night in Joe’s when you found him, instead of trying to drink him under the bar and starting a fight with those Australians, we might have been able to prevent all of this in Seacouver.”

“Exactly,” the Highlander chimed in.


*****
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:45 PM   #317
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pgs 267.75 - 268

The packhorse nickered uneasily at the strange scream followed by a blood-chilling snarl of defiance that ripped through the jungle night. “There, there,” Willow whispered uneasily in what she hoped was a comforting tone to the little mare. “I’d rather be in my bed tonight too, but we have to go back El Encanto.” The horse tried shying and bolting when the scream grew closer and more defiant, forcing the witch to pull harder on the mare’s reins around the unconscious woman in front of her when it tried to take off despite her efforts.

Katriona woke at that moment, temporarily confused by her surroundings, but sensing a jittery horse gathering its shoulders beneath her to buck. Gently thumping it ’twixt its ears the aching woman elicited an indignant whicker from the beast that made her reconsider rearing the two off so she could flee.

“You’re awake!” Willow said, almost losing control of the small mare in her startlement.

“Aye,” Katriona muttered darkly. “Almost wish I weren’t the way my head is pounding. Did that man hit me?”

“Uhhhh… yes.” The redhead swallowed hard at the other woman’s tone, wondering if Katriona was carrying any weapons. Immortals seemed to have a knack for hiding weapons on their person that she almost envied, making a mental note that if there was magic involved she simply had to learn it.

“Why tha… Gimme the reins, we’re going back.”

“No, we’re not.”

“Turn this horse around,” Katriona ordered. Her eyes sweeping the surrounding jungle, she caught a glimpse of something big in the distance and an instinctual shudder deep inside wanted nothing to do with whatever was out there snarling in the darkness.

“Look, I understand your frustration,” the younger redhead felt the other bracing for an argument. “But you and I have no business going to that temple. As much as it may irk us to leave that fight to them, we have to - Eep!” Willow squealed when the horse bucked at another chilling snarl coming closer.

“For the luv o’ - can you even ride?” Katriona demanded, grabbing the reins as she sensed the horse getting ready to be difficult when the darker mass seemed to flow closer to them.

“Not well,” the witch admitted.

“Then let go of the reins.” The older woman demanded, trying to take them in hand against Willow’s attempts at maintaining a grip on them. “And move your feet from the stirrups.”

“We can’t go back!”

“We’ll discuss that later. Whatever that is out there - it sounds big, has fangs the size o’ m’ foot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it had claws as long as short-swords! For now we need to get away from it and you’re going to let this beast throw us if you don’t take it in hand. I can’t control it if you’re fighting me!”

“Oh,” Willow uttered, kicking her feet free of the stirrups in compliance.

“Slide back. I’ll be giving the beastie its head, so you might want to hang on.”

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Old 02-02-2011, 10:47 PM   #318
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 269

“Brandy,” Willow informed Katriona. Sliding back as instructed and oomph’ing a little in discomfort when the older woman kicked her ankle as she slid her own bare feet into the stirrups.

“Sorry – Brandy.”

“No. That’s the horse’s name - Brandy. I’m Willow.”

“Sorry, Willow,” Katriona amended. Wrapping the reins around her hand as the snarl grew still closer. “Alright, Brandy - yee-ah!” she cried. The small horse didn’t even need the command when she felt the reins giving her freedom to flee. Jumping forward like a loosed arrow, she ran for their lives, grateful the human women finally took her advice to get away from what was creeping up on them.

A quarter-mile into their flight Willow muffled a shriek as Brandy dodged a tree in her path. “I said hold on!” Katriona snapped, grabbing the smaller woman’s arm and holding it tight across her stomach to drag her over the horse’s shoulders with her. “Whatever it is was chillin’ my bones, I’m sure we don’t want to see it. But there’s too many strange things out tonight if I’m not still hallucinating.”

“Oh, you aren’t hallucinating,” Willow gulped. “Let me up a little.”

“She can run faster if we keep low,” Katriona argued over her shoulder.

“I can’t cast a spell to slow whatever it is back there down, like this.”

“Spell?” The Cursed Immortal uttered suspiciously. “You a witch?”

“Yes!” Willow yelled into her ear.

“Oh bloody ’ell! Not another one,” Katriona snarled.

“I’m a good witch!”

“Aye! So? Supposedly, so was the last one that tried stabbing me in the back! And the bitch had the audacity to call me friend before she did!”

“Well, I won’t. Stab you in the back, that is.” Willow promised snatching her arm free. “Hold her steady!”

“Hold her steady, she says,” Katriona muttered unhappily. “You heard the lady, Brandy. Try to hold steady, ya sure footed beauty. That’s m’ fine girl,” she crooned encouragingly to the small Spanish-bred mare in Castilian.

Chanting under her breath, Willow threw up a wall of thickened air behind them. Katriona mused that the cut off snarl rose on an almost comical note when whatever was behind them hit the obstacle the witch tried. “The spell won’t hold it long, but it will delay it enough to give us a better leeead.” Willow shrieked, nearly losing her seat when Brandy jumped a log in their path.

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Old 02-02-2011, 10:56 PM   #319
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 270

“I told you, hold on,” Katriona cried over her shoulder as the horse scrambled to regain her hind footing before gathering herself to jump another of the small streams riddling the area. Minutes later when an eagle’s scream of challenge above was returned by the cooing of a dove and the thumping of a giant land tortoise the horse seemed to calm and finally slow to a more sedate pace. Her sides heaving from the double weight, Brandy’s mad flight had left her dripping with sweat. Bringing the little mare to a stop Katriona slid off her, “Get down.”

“We’re not going back.” Willow objected, trying to take the reins back from the younger looking woman.

“I heard ye the first time,” Katriona replied patiently. “But we can’t keep riding this beauty after a run like that or we’ll make her flounder. Won’t we, my brave pretty,” the Cursed woman crooned the last in Spanish to the little mare while trying to study her lines in the darkness. “Especially if we need to ask her to do it again,” she said, running a practiced hand up the small horse’s near knee feeling for heat.

“Oh,” Willow said contritely, sliding down to land lightly on the ground. “My apologies, Brandy. Take a break. You earned it,” she patted the horse encouragingly.

“We can’t stop completely,” Katriona said. “She’ll cramp up if we don’t give her a cool down walk after a run like that.”

Looking to make conversation while walking, the ginger-haired woman let her curiosity get the better of her and she asked, “Who was this other witch that stabbed you in the back. Metaphorically, I’m assuming.”

Striving for a level tone so as not to spook the horse, Katriona’s words belied their calmness when she demanded, “I answer that - you tell me what, in the name of every god that’s ever lived, is goin’ on?”

“Uhm, short version?” Willow replied with a wry expression. “Kendall accidentally bought you a pendant containing the heart of an imprisoned god. When Lulin, that green comet that passed Earth earlier this year – a remnant of his worshipers thought it was a sign to try and release him from his prison. Apparently it’s part of the wards set on his tomb. Anyway, they tracked the pendant and since you had it they had to make you the sacrifice to release him.”

“Isn’t that just special,” Katriona muttered. “Whoa, what’s this?” she inquired as she came across the pack containing a pair of machetes and a sawed-off shotgun.

“Kendall really didn’t like the idea of leaving you unarmed,” Willow informed her uneasily. “Why don’t you like witches?”

Damnit! How am I supposed stay pissed enough to kill him when he does something sweet like that? And I didn’t say I didn’t like all witches. I’ve come to know a number through the years that claimed a magical ability. Some seemingly had a real gift. Most were just herb wives, hedge wizards, or flat out charlatans. Most so-called witches though, were just some herb woman that some stuffed shirt male felt challenged his authority or was too uppity for the men in charge tastes.” Katriona related, taking up the reins to start leading the horse. “Myself included in the last group.”

“No, you said, ‘Oh bloody ’ell! Not another one’. What did you mean?” Willow inquired as she started following.

With a glare back over her shoulder, Katriona tried answering cryptically. “The last woman I knew that claimed any real gift for real magic betrayed my trust in her. And she was supposedly a good witch.”

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Old 02-02-2011, 10:57 PM   #320
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 271 - 272

“Are you sure it wasn’t just a misunderstanding?” Willow cautiously inquired, using just a touch of a push in her words to get the other woman talking.

Katriona turned, glaring hotly down on the smaller woman in her anger and making the horse shy in fright. “Don’t do that! Don’t ever do that to me! You want to know something, fine! Then ask! If I want to answer, I will. If it’s none of your business, I’ll keep it to m’self, thank ye kindly!”

Taken aback, Willow swallowed hard. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you angry. You’re immune to ‘the voice’, aren’t you?”

“Aye, apparently.” Katriona replied, regretting her outburst spooking the horse and trying to bring her tone back under control to keep from frightening it further.

“Not many people are.” Willow confided, striving for a calming tone without a touch of what the other woman would construe as pushing her. “That’s why Vampires are able to stay so well hidden for the most part. Not all of them can do it, but most can suggest people never saw them if they want.”

“If you want to convince me you’re a ‘good witch’,” Katriona raised her fingers in quote marks, “then you won’t try that again. Or so help me, I’ll slit ye stem-to-stern, little girl. Because that one did try tha’ trick on me - and Kendall too, for that matter. Much to my grief.”

“What did she do,” Willow asked in dismay. “Who was she? I mean, are you sure it wasn’t a misunderstanding?”

“Oh, aye! It was a misunderstanding all right!” Katriona quietly snapped trying to keep the heat from her voice. “Cassandra misunderstood that despite his feeling a wee bit trapped at the time, Kendall really didn’t want me dead to be free of me! She misunderstood and wouldn’t pay heed because she was obviously so much older and wiser, that in the course of a thousand years, Kendall and I had already been to a number of so-called Wizards or Witches, Magicians, Sorcerers, and Alchemists. And of those that really could do as they claimed - none could find a way to break our curse without killing me, him, or possibly the both of us then and there. And despite it all - even when we haven’t much liked the other, we still loved the person. You don’t live as long as we have, bound to the other, without the occasional low spot in the relationship. We, or should I say, I - had the bad fortune of befriending her during a low. I wound up with my man’s head befuddled in the clouds. Thrown out of m’ own house. Denounced as a witch in the streets – by my husband under her influence! Dragged to the Doges dungeons to spend the next three months at the mercies of the jailers while I wasted away until I nearly died for that mistake. All the while Cassandra was keeping him shielded from her attempts to break our curse while manipulating herself into his affections. If Amanda hadn’t come to Venice when she had, I probably would have died. Because I was surely feeling ready to.”

“Oh,” Willow swallowed hard in dismay. Sensing that was all she was going to be told further on the matter and feeling uncomfortable for asking. “I apologize for prying. I’d probably be upset too if someone I thought was a friend did that to me.”

“Aye! Ye would,” Katriona said through clenched teeth, raising a hand to her temple to massage it.

“If you’d let me, I could help with that headache I think,” Willow carefully offered, sensing the powder keg she was travelling with.

“I’ll be alright,” Katriona murmured softly. Moving her hand to massage her neck, she offered an olive branch figuring she was being too harsh, “Maybe later, if it’s stubborn. How are ye at neck massages?”

*****
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