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Old 02-04-2011, 04:25 AM   #321
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pgs 272.5 - 273

Eagle-woman dove again in renewed attack. Ripping at the one Dark Hound’s back when it came too close to attacking Taïno plodding along in her surprisingly ground eating pace for her Tortoise form. As far as the bloody and battered warrior woman was concerned she had not made this long journey from her sacred mountain home, that her Southern friend had traveled so long ago in search of her tribesmen’s aid, only to be stopped by this stupid beast. Let alone one that allowed itself to be used as meanly as it did. Fawning to its masters in ways even Dog would not stoop to. It had no pride as far as she was concerned and it would be a cold day around the fire indeed before the Dark Hound stopped her mission.

The fetid beast reared, clawing at the air of her passage and catching her tail feathers as Eagle-woman quickly soared upward on the currents. High above her, Dove cooed nervously. Calling for Coyote, she cried out *Run and find the brothers, Manabozho and Chibiabos! Now! Quickly! I was told that they had come a moon ago and should be near here!*

Coyote yowled, baying into the moonless night trying to raise his voice loud enough to be heard by the warriors that the women wanted him to go fetch. Snapping down on the other Dark Hound’s tail, he dragged it back down to the ground as it tried to jump up after Eagle-woman too. The two canines rolled together, tussling and slamming into a large tree, knocking the wind from Coyote. The creature snapped at his throat again trying to tear it out as its’ companion tried to hamstring him. *It is you, who should fly swiftly for them, Dove,* Coyote objected.

Eagle-woman looped back, screaming deviance in her bloody attack to make another strafing run at the foul, loathsome creatures harrying their companion. *And the West Wind, Dajoji of the Iroquois, should be with them, Dove!*

Taïno bellowed as she ran at the closest animal in the dark night. Uncertain what she might do to stop it, but determined to make it through and stop the abomination of her brother Eminán’s madness that she had tried oh-so-long ago to prevent, when a tiger’s roar answered her battle cry startling the four. From the darkest jungle, starlight raced toward them as a comet across the sky. A second tiger could be seen racing behind Bái Hǔ and Zhu Rong’s mount managed to keep on the Constellation’s heels despite his not being made of star-stuff. The Chinese General on his back whooped a piercing war-cry that heartened Eagle-woman into realizing they were not alone in dealing with these abominations. For once this night not cursing the forces near Momrath Eminán’s tomb that prevented her from using her bow and knife in this battle for their survival.

*****

Late morning found the intrepid party of heroes coming up on a small village that was rousing for the day. They were considering passing it by due to the agitated exchanges of its inhabitants when Methos pointed out that there seemed to be far more people milling around than the number of huts indicated lived there.

“What do you suppose is going on?” Wesley asked perplexed.

“It’s been a long time, but if I were a betting man - which I am - I’d wager they’re making ready for an attack. Or they are planning to do the attacking,” Kendall observed.

“They’re planning to do the attacking, if I’m any judge,” Methos confirmed uneasily. “There’s no barriers going up. No ditches being dug.”

“There’s at least a half dozen dialects being thrown around,” Duncan added. “I’d say that’s an indication of a meeting for the formation of a war party.”

Swinging down from his horse, Kendall started walking forward leading his chestnut. Quietly calling after the Irishman, Fitzcairn asked, “What do you think you’re doing, ye daft Leprechaun?”
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:28 AM   #322
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 274

“Use m’ gift of the blarney to find out if they’re looking to stop the same thing we are or if they’re getting ready for a ‘Father’s home from the gaols party’.”

“Aye, and you’re full of it,” Fitz’s frustrated voice called after him.

“Katriona says tha’ too. But then, I have kissed the stone four times in m’ life.”

“As if once wasn’t enough.” Duncan muttered ruefully, swinging down from his black to follow. “Maybe the rest of you should stay back here until we figure out -”

“Too late,” Methos said as he looked around to find the source of a snapped twig and spying the number of spears, knocked arrows, blow darts, small arms, and not a few AK-47’s rising from the underbrush aimed on their group. “I suppose it’s too much to hope someone here speaks English.”
“I’ll settle on someone speaking Spanish or trade tongue.” Kendall replied, raising his hands to his head and calling, “¡Hola! ¿Cualquier persona aquí habla español?*”

* Hello! Anyone here speak Spanish?

*****


Under the harsh mid-afternoon sun, Araceli stood before the small step pyramid once hidden in the undergrowth of the Amazon Rain Forest. Upon their arrival a mere few hours ago she had set the faithful to finish clearing away any remaining foliage so the people could see the ancient magnificence of their temple. Many that had joined her along the path had been ready to falter after the long, hard walk but a meal provided by those already there and waiting had heartened them. Supplemented with a strong mixture of coca leaves, ayawaska the Spirit vine, Brugmansia the sacred tobacco, and other herbs that Araceli had slipped into the meal, gave them their strength and resolve back. Under her instructions the Temple's granite faces gleamed dully with the sun’s radiance to mimic the grandeur it once enjoyed. Momrath Eminán would return knowing they had eagerly awaited him.

At her back stood the gathered children that were still with her faithful. The few that had not been whisked away along their journey here. The priestess was perturbed that there were not more present, when she was almost certain there should have been. Silently cursing the slackers that had not been paying enough attention to prevent their abductions, she turned to look over the small group nervously standing there wondering why they had been assembled. It was the traitors led by Raöul, she was sure. Mid-morning Jahlis had brought the tearful Téyuna to her and the woman confessed all. The traitor was now being prepared to meet her punishment even as Araceli reviewed those children remaining. It would be a grand sacrifice with much blood to appease Momrath Eminán.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:28 AM   #323
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 275

Silently she vowed that after this night, those members of her tribe that had turned from the path would receive their just punishments once she had released Momrath Eminán from his prison entombing him beneath their feet. The demon within her giggled gleefully. Barely able to contain itself from capering in dance as it pictured the running blood and the inferno of flaming destruction about to befall these puny mortals that would deny his kind their right under the barren moon.

Though the window of opportunity was fast closing it could tell that the twin-horned, green comet, imprisoning his master’s essence was still within range to release his spirit back to his rightful domain. The demon sensed the constraining ice flowing out in thick trails, drifting beyond the warming star’s fourth planet; teetering uncertainly in its course as if the barren ice could feel Momrath’s heart beating strongly against the burning out husk of the woman’s chest. The icy chemicals trying to press onward, out into the depths of space along its’ long journey as She who had set the stars decreed. While the spirit contained within battled to force it back, sensing the close proximity of its body and heart. The conflict succeeding only so much that the comet struggled forward only to be drawn back while Momrath Eminán waited the beckoning of his essences rejoining. The conflicting compulsions contained in the comet shook it back and forth while they fought. While around it the added forces of the comet’s presence caused numerous disturbances in the gravitational fields of a number of small asteroids, sending one very small and mostly unnoticed rock smashing into its cousin to explode in a cloud of dust, never to be noted again.

Even in the daylight the granite temple shone with Momrath Eminán’s radiance, varicolored veins of beryl pulsed, throbbing like life-blood awaiting its release. The demon could feel the trapped heart begging to jump off its chest and into the body entombed so many feet beneath the earth by his faithless sister, Taïno, so many eons ago.

One of the young hunters will be needed for the sacrifice. At least one, the demon suddenly decided, spying Toco leading a group scrubbing the altar clean where the golden cemi would be placed. Yes. That one would do splendidly as the other would be needed to assist in the blood letting. A pity the other three had been lost to them and had to be destroyed. Their blood could not join his. Blood to wash it. Blood to bask in. Blood to drink in ravenous ecstasy as heady as any wine to celebrate his master’s return. Blood to release Momrath Eminán from the chains that had imprisoned him for so very long.


*****
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:11 PM   #324
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 276

Having expected the worst after their welcoming party the Immortals were pleasantly surprised to find the Colombian’s amenable to talking with them and finally offering their hospitality to the group. As Methos pointed out while they were led to the largest hut where many of the local shamans were gathered, strange times often called for strange bedfellows and these people gave every indication they had much to fear and not from them. Once the assembled wise ones and elders had consulted with the ancient Immortal, Kendall, and Wesley in private, they had declared the group to be allies in the coming trouble. Even the unusually pale ones, appearing to one of the mystic’s ‘inner eye’ to be the walking dead were greeted, if warily, by the assembled shaman. That news, it was agreed, was not to be spread for the general knowledge of the rest of ‘the People’ so long as they agreed to be on their best behavior. To aid in that effort a dark place, far from the strong unclouded light, was found for them.

The gathered shamans were agitated and disturbed by the failure of four of their peers to return with information they had gone seeking. Lokono of the Totoró, Uúni of the Tariano tribe, and Karaya and Rosa of the local Taïno had yet to return from seeking Araceli out after they had heard she was returning home from her quest. The Immortals and Sorcerer were told that many individuals from the local tribes had gone missing over the last few months and dark shadows had been seen in the jungle. Creatures seemingly of mist that were there one moment and gone the next. Several of the gathered men and women nodded sagely when one old woman spat, “demons”, and made the sign to ward off evil.

After several hours the three were allowed to leave the meeting and rejoin their friends who had been shown places to rest during the remaining muggy morning hours. Through much of the morning Wesley had fretted that the prolonged and ritualistic meeting was losing them precious time, but trying to leave right after the assembly had been strongly frowned upon by the elders. It took Methos finally pointing out to the younger Sorcerer that it might not be wise to anger the tribal leaders if they were going to be of assistance. It was probably best to accept their hospitality for at least a few more hours before trying to leave and none of them had had much sleep the night before. Finally after catching a couple hours rest of their own the party was allowed to leave under the bright afternoon sun on a corrected course without Angel and Spike, who were disturbed that after many days of heavily clouded skies it chose today of all days to clear up.

Not keen on deserting Wesley should he meet with trouble ahead, Spike attempted covering himself head-to-toe to try and leave with the others. Dashing out of the hut he was followed by Angel’s withering rebuke, “If you think you can do it, be my guest. But I give you…” Smoking heavily, Spike ran back inside plowing over his mentor before he’d gone a dozen paces from their shelter. The younger vampire came up short against the back wall and lay glaring out at the cloudless sky seemingly mocking him in his attempt to one up his Grandsire while Angel beat the tendrils of smoke rising from Spike’s coat.
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:12 PM   #325
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 277

Imperturbably, the aging mystic that sat watch with them informed the two in his old cracked voice, “The path ahead is not nearly as overgrown as the jungle you have traveled through these last few days and Sky promises to be clear of clouds until Sun returns to his bed.” Loathe to do so the two agreed to follow and catch up later in the day when the final parties coming to join the growing army would be arriving.

Riding from the village, Amanda smirked, “Imagine that? Katriona is never going to believe me when I tell her that you guys actually stopped and asked for directions! And getting a guide no less,” she smiled at the young man, Áro, who had joined them to show the group their way to the hidden step pyramid deeper in the Amazon.

“I don’t actually recall being asked our opinion on whether or not we stopped,” Greg quipped taking up the lead. “So does it actually count?”

“I don’t care if it counts or not,” Wesley declared. “I can’t believe we were so far off course! The protections and misdirection’s on the tomb were far more complicated than any of us gave the ancients credit for. I’m just grateful that we did run across that village and for it to be the one that was the gathering place for those readying to move against the Ábą Eminánie. From the intelligence they have been able to gather, the Priestess Araceli definitely seems to have become possessed. I just wish they had not insisted that we put off further travel for so long. I have a very bad feeling about this, but nothing I said would convince the elders that time was of the essence. With Katriona’s escape this morning the Priestess may expedite her plans and should she rush or get sloppy, the consequences could amount to nearly as dire.”


*****


The demon grew more frantic with a building sense of urgency and restlessness. News carried to the Priestess told them that those that would stand against them were on the move and would soon arrive to try and thwart their goal. It was not quite the optimal time to start the ceremony that would release Momrath Eminán, but the surrounding jungle was growing chaotic with the sounds of snarls and shrieks. Brilliant pink light of the slowly setting sun reflected off the clouds rolling in and the torches burning cohoba that the priestess ordered set along the perimeter spit; hissing and snapping with the insects drawn to their perfumed light.

Standing high above the gathered faithful, before the altar on which the ancient cemi depicting Momrath Eminán sat, Araceli pulled the ceremonial mask over her face and spread her arms over the small crowd of nearly two hundred fifty. The close air of the building storm kept the mixed herbs of the many torches close to the ground creating a cloying atmosphere. Wispy tendrils of the heady scent drifted on the slight air currents mingling with the smoke hanging over the group. Sparking their eyes brightly while it dulled their minds. The drums and rattles played to set the pace of the ceremony grew steadily louder. Their vibrations throbbing in the bones of the faithful whose very bodies began to jerk with the tempo in a macabre dance mimicking those of other joyous ceremonies. Slowly they stepped one way, circling the temple a quarter turn before changing direction to return an eighth of the way back to their original positions. As the music’s tempo increased, so did their dance, circling and circling the small pyramid. Like puppets with no will of their own the three concentric circles of dancers twitched, stamped, and shook their arms. No sound passed their lips but their increasingly labored breaths.
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:13 PM   #326
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 278

Thirty feet above them, the Priestess stood before the reddish-gold cemi placed reverently on the altar. Its blood-jeweled eyes shone from within, taking in the crowd before it as Araceli exhorted the gathered that they were about to behold their god. Warning them they had to do so with an open heart or he would vanquish any that harbored doubt. “As we were promised with the return of the green, twin-horned star, Momrath Eminán would return to us. And so he shall! For that star has passed three moons ago! Our time has come to take back our destiny! The time has come that our people will again reign supreme as our ancestors once did over this land. We are the powerful! We are the faithful! Those that would see us fail are our enemies and our enemy numbers many! With Momrath Eminán to guide us we - will - crush those that would prevent our destiny! They will be slaughtered before his might and ground into the dust from which their craven hearts came forth with the birth of his sister. They are the ancestors of those that imprisoned him beneath the earth. Cut out his heart and imprisoned his soul. Leaving us helpless before the attack of the foreign devils that killed our people with their greed for gold and jewels! Today their ancestors take our land, fell our trees, and pollute our water! Momrath Eminán will see that they burn for their atrocities committed against his people, my children!

“Momrath Eminán! Momrath Eminán! Momrath Eminán!” The gathered began intoning in a sluggish voice, their heads lolling about in their drugged haze. Their bodies beginning to glisten with sweat from their exertions. A woman screamed in ecstasy. Falling to the ground she writhed in a macabre mockery of passion, her back bending upward with her shrieks of joyous laughter.

At this signal the demon’s words formed on Araceli’s lips and she began to chant the ancient ceremony. Calling to Momrath Eminán to wake. Beseeching him to hear their unworthy pleas and return to guide them to their rightful path. She begged Momrath Eminán to let them worship him in all his glory and might, so that he might reign supreme over all other gods past and present that would deny him his place among the light. With a frenzied whoop, young Tiro of the Curripaco cried out. Falling upon the steps, he began to crawl up them toward the altar. “Take me, Momrath Eminán! Take me, so that I might serve!”

Araceli spun around; her long black hair a shining curtain whipping behind her in the growing wind, played over her bright feather clad shoulders. Facing the lowering sun she cried out, “Bring the sacrifices!”
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:14 PM   #327
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 279

Eight pairs of men parted from the dancers and seized those chosen already kneeling before the steps leading to the altar. At the top of the stairs Tiro drew his knife from his belt and with a blissful expression on his face he screamed, “My blood for Momrath Eminán!” The demon smiled, nodding to the young man to continue. Araceli’s eyes beckoned him to plunge the blade into his chest. Without another word, the young Curripaco took his own life, gurgling the name of the fire god with his last breath as his blood poured over the altar and down through the blood grooves. Lifting Tiro’s head by his hair, Araceli raised his body upright so all could see. Brandishing her long ceremonial knife, she first cut out the youth’s heart and held it up to the crowd before flicking her wrist and lopping off Tiro’s head. Joyous shouts rose below her and the assembled natives cried for Momrath Eminán even more loudly.

On the bottom step of the ancient structure Téyuna tried to struggle. Tears rolling down her face, she was led first up the stairs to the carved altar. Its blood grooves still showing brown from the blood poured over them centuries ago underlying Tiro’s own so recently spilt. Her efforts were in vain against the two burly warriors each clasping her by an upper arm. Brought before the stone slab the woman cried out, “Araceli, this is wrong! The legend written below in the sacred chamber says it must be the one who holds the heart! I do not hold the heart!”

“But I do and the blood of an enemy is strong,” Araceli sneered. With a flick of her fingers in signal, one man restrained the Ábą Eminánie woman as the other picked the young man’s body up and placed it to the side. Raising the kicking and screaming Téyuna up onto the stone, they grabbed her by the wrists and ankles stretching her out over the altar before the Priestess. Raising the long, ceremonial blade high above her head the possessed woman continued to chant. Offering the non-believer’s blood to the god so that it might nourish and please him. With her final moment of life Téyuna whimpered, “You’re making a huge mis-” A thunderous clap of thunder drowned out anything more that might have made its way past the knife slicing into her breast before it crossed through her throat severing her spine. Making short work of removing the non-believer’s heart, Araceli again held it and Téyuna’s head up to the screaming crowd.

For a moment the little boy that stood beside the girl chosen for the rite whimpered at the fearsome mask Araceli wore. A thought of self-preservation tried making its way into his brightly-drugged eyes and he tried to struggle between the two men holding him. A sharp cuff to the side of his head quelled any fight that may have arisen, however, and he was lifted up upon the altar without another word. A scream of fright escaped his lips as the Priestess continued to intone the rites and Jahlis took up the knife to free her hands and thoughts. As his head rolled aside after Araceli tossed it onto the growing pile for Momrath Eminán’s feast, the little girl followed dull-eyed and silent.

The earth heaved as if something beneath them woke. The ground rolled, shaking with the gathering energies. Great grey storm clouds roiled overhead, building higher and higher, blotting out the last rays of the dying light of day. Their rapid formation lit with lightening that appeared to want to tear the heavens apart in a cascading array that seemingly did not end.


*****
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:32 PM   #328
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 280

Momrath Eminán slowly woke from his foul reverie. He sensed the building energies calling to him, beckoning for his attentions. Caressing his senses as they had not been touched in the long, long, eons he had been entrapped in the darkness. It stirred him from his dreams of blood and destruction, and the god stretched widely. Working long cramped muscles that pushed at the boundaries of his prison, disturbing the bedrock around him. *YES!*, he cried out in ecstasy. *AT LAST! MY FOLLOWERS STILL EXIST! FREE ME, MY SLAVES! DELIVER YOUR MASTER BACK INTO THE LIGHT OF DAY!* His booming voice rang out shaking the earth beneath the temple. Momrath Eminán threw himself forcefully against the imprisoning dirt of his cell attempting to speed his release. *FREE ME, SO THAT I MIGHT DELIVER MY WRATH UPON THOSE THAT WOULD SEE ME DESTROYED!* He shouted with a vicious kick to the barriers that held him prisoner.



*****


Still miles from the hidden temple, Duncan MacLeod’s horse bucked. Whinnying in fright it kicked Methos’ horse causing it to turn, nipping angrily at the assault. The two men were exercising all their expertise in trying to separate their horses when Kendall’s own plunged. Bucking madly, the chestnut attempted to throw his rider so he might run for safety. All old hands at temperamental steeds, the three managed to get the creatures apart, barely avoiding the other five whickering and shying in their agitation.

“What’s going on?” Amanda cried out. Throwing her slight weight over her own dappled-gray’s shoulders to keep the animal from rearing in fright.

“I’d say we’re a little late,” Greg snapped. Forcing his mount to turn in circles to keep from running into Fitzcairn’s bay whose eyes went white with fear when it halted to stand locked still in the path, trembling in fright.

“Yaw!” Kendall yelled. Kicking his heels harder than he intended and slapping the reins over his chestnut’s shoulders in an effort at giving the animal no other choice than to move forward. Like a shot, the horse ran in the Cursed Immortal’s choice of direction, closely followed by the blacks the Highlander and Methos rode.

*****
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:33 PM   #329
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Grian tried flying against the building wind, but the Morrigan fought a losing battle and the raven beside her went flying backwards; head over tail when it lost ground, to slam into a thick trunked Yopo tree. Falling thirty feet to the ground, Áine lay stunned with the air knocked out of her as Badb Catha and Magda swooped down to land beside her. Above them, Ériu cried out, *The wind is too strong!*

*Come sister!* Badb Catha exhorted the befuddled Áine, *Walk it off! We have no time to take a rest! We may already be too late and that cursed* boy *will not arrive in time!*

Manabozho ran up followed closely by Apollo’s sister Artemis. The two had joined the sisters earlier that afternoon after the Trickster had found the Huntress locked in her own fight with some dark god and he had aided the goddess in defeating the unfamiliar deity. He had been searching for his brother Chibiabos, Dajoji, and the Viking, whom he had lost earlier after a pack of Dark Hounds had attacked them, scattering the men. Artemis bent her equine head away from the rising dust storm crying out, *Was no one left by the portal to guard against such an occurrence?*


*We tried, but they were forced off in the night and the closest Anann has been able to get since, is yards away from the Temple itself!* Magda cawed. *Does anyone know what Taïno did when she set her wards that is locking us in these forms?*

Manabozho stamped his hind legs irritably, *A fine predicament for a Trickster this is! What is the plan, ladies? I expect Dajoji and my brother to be coming at the eastern face, while Loki was to search for Vulcan and Shiva, and any others they could find to approach from the North and South!*

*We battle forth and breach the wards when they fall,* Magda screamed. Taking flight, the raven kept low to the ground where she could use the undergrowth as protection expecting the others to follow.


*****
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:34 PM   #330
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 282

The building clouds grew thicker and still darker, holding down the heady Cohoba laced smoke and blocking any remaining light. For miles the jungle surrounding Momrath Eminán’s temple darkened into premature night that was repeatedly rent through by strike after strike of lightening across the sky. Araceli threw her masked head back in joy before the golden cemi. Spreading her arms and taking in the growing energies to channel them to her god. Unencumbered by escorts Toco marched up to the altar behind her, all but throwing himself on the stone as the ground below them heaved, roiling and shaking with the earth’s moans of pain. Through it all Araceli continued to chant, beseeching Momrath Eminán to return to them.

Jagged forks arced down from the heavens, striking the ground again and again, starting fires in the trees that shook and split under the assault. An ancient Yopo tree cracked in two by a lightening strike toppled, crushing a half dozen of the assembled in its path. Practically heedless of the obstacle, those dancing in the outer circle only stepped in more closely to continue their dance unhindered by the leaping flames at their backs. A majestic Brazil nut swayed in ever widening arcs over the worshipers. When the disturbance reached a degree that its root system could no longer resist, it too slowly began to topple. Dragging the widely spreading anchoring network from the ground as it fell deep into the forest, cleaving through the ancient wards preventing the other gods’ entry. Far below, Momrath Eminán beat his fists against the wards of his prison. Throwing his head back, he laughed at the walls sensing the parts of himself slowly coming together, restoring him to his once full vigor. *YES! YES! FREE ME!*, he cried out, commanding those above to do his bidding.


Heated zigzagging knifes of light continued hitting the grass and yet the gathered still danced. In their drugged stupor the group joyously called out. Crying and begging for the imprisoned god to rise from his tomb. Raising the long ceremonial blade over his age-mate, Jahlis smiled down on Toco’s beatific expression, convinced that his blood would be the blood to blast open the seals preventing the god from breaking free.
Momrath Eminán threw himself bodily against the imprisoning barricades on his tomb. He tore at the bedrock with his clawed fingers in his effort to break free more quickly, shouting his demands. *BLOOD! GIVE ME BLOOD*, he roared. *FEED YOUR GOD YOU PUNY, GROVELING CREATURES! NOURISH MY SOUL AND WORSHIP YOUR GOD! SING FOR ME! DANCE FOR ME! GROVEL BEFORE MY THRONE AND SERVE - YOUR – GOD!* Momrath Eminán’s chest heaved with his passion as he felt the barriers in his very bones, chipping and breaking under his command. The parts of him that had been rent apart by that traitorous whore bitch, coming together to reunite and restore him to life on this plane. Momrath Eminán would have his sister kneel before him before he ravaged her in his vengeance! Taïno would be brought to heel before his first day of freedom was over and she would once again serve his base desires, as a female should.
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:35 PM   #331
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Jahlis struck down, piercing Toco’s chest as Araceli cried out, “Momrath Eminán!” The imprisoned god tore at the barriers confining him, clawing his way up through the earth. Nature suddenly fell quiet, the very jungle holding its breath for the space of several heartbeats as Odin and Mercury raced toward the stairs to throw themselves on Eminán should he break free. The earth again shook violently with the roar of the conquering warrior rising up from under the tomb, throwing Anann to her knees and tripping Dajoji who held back to guard their backs. The sound grew louder, deafening those present and shaking them to their knees as the assault on their senses turned to cruel laughter.

The demon in Araceli grabbed the knife from Jahlis after he cut off Toco’s head and plunged it into the chest of the no longer needed vessel just above the pendant she wore on her breast, her hot blood pouring over the shining gem. In that moment Nature held her breath, unwilling to imagine the coming horror, but the sundering of the final barriers to release Momrath Eminán’s heart did not happen as the demon-god expected. The pulsing jewel beat harder trying to break free of its confinement, but the blood that fed it was not of the shared heart that was needed. The fluid that was pre-ordained as that which would finally melt the last barrier before Momrath Eminán’s release was not hers.

Hitting the last barrier before him, Momrath Eminán beat at it enraged! Demanding that it release him. Commanding it to crumble before him. Mercury reached Jahlis first, snapping the youth's neck before he could behead the Priestess. The Earth beneath the temple continued rising, exploding upwards and shaking the building’s foundations as the clouds slashed strike after strike down on the stone. Gaia screamed a battle call of denial drowning out the angered cries that changed to thwarted anguish, quickly becoming moans of pain as the final barrier held against Momrath Eminán's assault, forcing him back deep into the earth. Rebuilding thicker and thicker as it forced the demon-god into the bedrock of his confinement. The temple sunk twelve feet in the center of the clearing, the surrounding area rising sharply around it marking it off from the jungle.



The fiery gale of suddenly dispersing energies seared through those present. The super-heated air that did not turn those within the first circle instantly to ash picked up the second rank, slamming them against what trees remained standing. Their broken bodies dropping among the third rank already baked to skeletal statues that in the moments before death sought to protect their heads and eyes from the horror before them.

The shock wave of dispersing magic continued spreading out, throwing gods and dark spirits while felling trees and undergrowth in its path. The conflagration blew hot for miles in all directions, pulling much of the vegetation from the ground to send it soaring through the jungle adding to the destruction. Riding into the maelstrom that suddenly hit them, Kendall’s horse reared. Throwing him as it scrambled to keep its hind feet beneath it. The Highlander and reformed-Horseman barely managed to keep from riding over the Irish Immortal as he rolled and their own horses tried jumping the fallen horse and rider to keep from trampling them. Behind the three, Fitzcairn tried reining his bay in but it skidded, throwing him under as they tumbled back into Greg, Amanda, and Wesley bringing up the rear with the young Áro. Amanda’s dappled-gray started bucking madly in an effort to throw the woman that tried sending it forward, so it could take off back for its stall and safety so many miles away.
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Old 02-06-2011, 09:26 PM   #332
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When the hot wind finally died down the Immortals, Sorcerer, and Taino guide, slowly picked themselves up with mingled expressions of shock, horror, and uncertainty. Finding his voice first, Greg broke the stunned silence of the jungle that seemed to regard his even quiet demand, “What do you suppose that means,” as an intrusion to its wounded soul.

Still brushing himself off, Wesley looked up from the ground where he sat gathering his muddled thoughts. “I’m hoping it means they truly needed a sacrifice that had been given the heart willingly and not one of someone that took it by force, or we are in for some very big trouble. Are you alright Áro?” He asked the young man who had been riding with him.

Kendall rested his arms across his drawn up knees, dropping his head on them as he huffed, trying to regain his breath and bearings. Allowing himself a moment to regain his wits, the man rose inspecting the shattered bone sticking out through the screaming horse’s badly injured leg. “Gimme the rifle, Mac.” Being given the weapon, the Irishman cocked it before he knelt and brushed the forelock out of the chestnut’s eyes. “I’m really sorry about this,” he apologized to the gelding before pulling the trigger to fire up under its jaw and into its brain. The scream was short before its’ eyes rolled back in death and Wesley’s horse ran off into the darkness.

Rising back to his feet, Kendall slung the rifle over his shoulder and bent to retrieve the saddle pack, drawing his cutlass from its’ rigging. “So, who’s coming with me? Anyone?”

“Are you insane, ye daft Leprechaun?” Fitzcairn demanded in befuddled disbelieve. Pulling his legs out from under his own horse that had fallen, pinning him before the beast took the clue it was safe to struggle back to his feet.

“Are we on that again?” Kendall snorted rhetorically, his accent slipping in the mild hysteria he held in check. “O’ course I am! I thought ye knew tha’ already, ya bloody Limey!”

“Like a fox,” Methos uttered under his breath. Climbing to his feet, he offered Amanda a hand up from the ground where the Immortal had thrown herself off during the dappled-gray’s efforts to get the woman off her back by crushing the thief against a tree.
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Old 02-06-2011, 09:27 PM   #333
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“Way I see it,” Kendall declared, “We either go that way,” he pointed in the direction of the temple, “and find what we shall find. Or we go that’a way,” he pointed back the way they had come, “and run. And mahybeh keep runnin’ the rest o’ our days. Short as they may be. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather go down fightin’ than running, laddie. Personally, I find running tiresome. Not to mention a touch humiliating. Sticks in m’ craw, it does.”

“Mine too,” Duncan said, yanking slightly on the reins to the skittish horse he was still trying to figure out how he’d kept a hold of.

“You are both insane,” Methos snapped derisively.

“I suppose that means you’ll be joining us then?” Kendall grinned.

Yes!” the older brunette ground out. “Have I ever told you how much I hate South America, MacLeod! Except Brazil - and maybe Argentina. Peru was all right. But I hate the Amazon!”

Rising unsteadily to his feet, Wesley winced trying to put his weight on his left leg. “I believe if someone can help me find something to use for a staff, I might be able to make it. We shouldn’t be very far from the temple. Greg, I think you should have a look at Áro, however. He seems a bit dazed.”

“Wesley should use the horse,” MacLeod said, handing the reins to Amanda. Turning to follow Kendall he began marching in the direction of the temple chivying the ancient Immortal over his shoulder. “C’mon Adam, you’re rambling.”


*****


Badb Catha slowly came to her senses in the dense jungle darkness, bird song was returning to the area around her she noted. How far from the temple they had been thrown she was not sure. Shaking her head to clear it, the Morrigan looked around for her companions and found her sisters Áine and Magda lying nearby. Beyond them the Greek goddess was trying to rise shakily to her two feet but fell back on her rear.

“Give yourselves a few minutes,” the Algonquin trickster muttered between his knees in groggy befuddlement from her other side. “I think we’re alive. But I am not positive of that fact. So don’t hold me to that statement.”

“Are you sure,” Anann moaned. “I think I’m dead.”

“Anann!” Grian cheered a little hysterically. “Where did you come from?”

“The heart of Hades, I think,” the brunette moaned again. “I’m dead. So could you please not shout?”
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Old 02-06-2011, 09:28 PM   #334
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“You are not dead and she is not shouting,” Magda groaned. “But you are talking a little more loudly than need be Grian.”

“Where are we?” Artemis demanded testily. “Where is the tomb and did Momrath Eminán escape his shackles?”

“No,” Manabozho said with a slight shake of his black hair to get it out of his eyes. “Before I lost my hold of the tree I tried to keep from flying off into the night, I did see the gate drop back down atop him.”

“Oh good. Yea team,” Áine quietly cheered, pumping a shaky fist in the air in victory. “I can sleep for a year then. Maybe by then I will have gotten rid of this headache.”

Raising an unsteady hand to her brow, Anann rubbed her brow wincing at the slight pressure she applied. “Are you sure we’re not all dead?”

“If we were dead, we wouldn’t ache so,” Artemis quietly moaned.

“Yeah team,” Áine repeated.

“Minerva might have been right after all,” Anann groaned.

“How so,” Magda inquired of the stars beginning to reappear overhead.

“Your sister Ériu may have slightly misread the glyphs or the portents,” the Greek goddess of Wisdom informed the group in lieu of greeting as she limped into the glade half-carrying Diana.

“Impossible,” Badb Catha said, struggling to sit up and defend her sister.

“Ah! You made it,” Anann moaned. Trying to wave at the two Romans she only succeeded in wiggling her fingers half-heartedly.

“Oh, it was an easy enough mistake to make,” Diana said breathlessly, sitting down heavily on a fallen tree trunk and pulling Minerva down with her. “You tell them,” the blond said with a back-handed pat on her companion’s breast.

“Aye, you tell her,” Anann waved listlessly between the two brunettes.

Taking up the explanation, Minerva informed the rest of the group, “The stone was so worn down as to be nearly unintelligible and it was in no language we were familiar with. We didn’t understand the entire nuance of the passage until Auchimalgen showed up and divined it for us under her moonlight. Being from around these parts she told us how the glyph could be used to indicate one who possessed, one who was given freely, or one that shared -”

“We very nearly handed Eminán exactly what he needed when we sent Bás Thugtha after him,” Anann blurted out. “Either one of that pair would have done! Didn’t we have to use his heart to fix hers?”

Manabozho fell back laughing hysterically and shaking his head to the heavens for a long moment before he finally gasped, “Oh that is rich! That is well and verily rich! Truly a blunder worthy of a Trickster! And I had nothing to do with it!”



*****
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:59 PM   #335
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Áro guided the horse he and Wesley rode leading the Immortals through the jungle quietly observing the surrounding seared landscape as far as their torches and flashlights would show them. The sight of burnt, bent, and toppled foliage was dismaying and a little threatening, causing the group to make the two mile trip in near silence. The closer they came to the grounds they sought, the more destruction was apparent until they finally reached the clearing where the step pyramid sat sunk below ground level in the center of a small crater.

Methos grabbed the Highlander’s arm to keep him from stepping on the first rock curled up on the outskirts of the blast area. “What,” Duncan snapped more harshly than he intended before Fitzcairn panned his flashlight over the stone that looked very human-like.

“Oh my God,” Greg breathed in dismay at the sight. “That’s not…”

“Oh dear,” Fitzcairn gasped in shock.

“It looks almost like Pompeii,” Kendall quietly uttered in disbelieve as he panned his flashlight over the area, prompting Methos to solemnly nod at the assessment. “That is what I think it is, isn’t it?”

“It’s a body,” Greg confirmed bending over the stone figure. “Frozen, or all the water was just pulled from it leaving… This.”

“Oh my,” Amanda moaned behind the hand she’d held to her mouth.

The group slowly made their way down the sharply slopped crater toward the center finding that the bodies ceased the closer they got to the pyramid. Panning his flashlight over the area, Kendall stopped his search and turned it back when he’d inadvertently flashed it up on the higher steps of the Temple and a gleam of light caught his eye. Climbing the stairs to trace the source, he was halfway up the steps when his foot caught the object kicking it slightly. Bending over to retrieve the item he sputtered, “I don’t believe it. I bloody don’t believe it!”

“What,” Duncan called to him from the bottom of the stairs, starting to follow the other man up.

Picking up the gold pendant imprisoning the heart of Momrath Eminán, the Irishman held his flashlight on it to show the others. “It survived. All this and it survived.”
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:01 PM   #336
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“You’re kidding,” Amanda cried out in shocked denial.

“No, I am afraid he is not.” Wesley said, leaning heavily on his makeshift cane at the bottom of the pyramid. “It would have been made nearly indestructible with the intent of never breaking its hold unless the proper conditions are met. Willow was right after all. It had to have been someone that was freely given it. It wouldn’t work if it was taken by force.”

“What are we supposed to do with it,” the Highlander wondered.

“For a long while it was being guarded by a tribe of Shasta Indians before they were massacred and their secret lost,” Wesley offered. “A small earthquake this last spring released it and a young man by the name of Dough Trimbley found it. I suppose we could take it back there and see if we couldn’t recruit a new set of guardians.”

“Oh no,” Kendall stated. “I know of an even better place that earthquake or no earthquake, it should never be found again.”

“Where,” Wesley asked perplexed.

“The bottom of the Mariana Trench,” the Irishman announced. “And I dare anyone to argue with me about that,” he continued under Wesley’s approving nod.

“I couldn’t think of a better place,” both Englishmen said at the same time while Amanda and Greg nodded at the proposed safeguard.

Fitzcairn smiled wanly at Wesley, “Then I do believe we are all in agreement, are we not?”

“This Mariana Trench,” Áro asked, “where is this?”

“Maybe the deepest place on earth, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” Methos answered.

“Ah!” the young man nodded solemnly in understanding. “I agree, a good place for it.”

They had been investigating the ruins for about an hour while Wesley reassured himself that the wards on Momrath Eminán’s tomb remained well and truly in place, when the small party began hearing sounds of movement in the jungle coming toward them. “It’s my people,” Áro smiled for the first time since they had come upon the devastation. “The shamans will be very pleased that the priestess of the Ábą Eminánie failed. They will again purify this land and eventually the jungle will take it back.”


*****
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:03 PM   #337
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Putting down Kendall’s guitar that he had been ‘keeping company’ to rest against the old-fashioned curved-arm settee, Joe turned back glancing up at the dapperly dressed demon indolently sprawled in the over-stuffed chair on the other side of the sitting room. Lorne’s red eyes were half-closed, his green-skinned face the picture of bliss tinted by the fading robin’s egg blue of the walls.

Reaching for the cup of rose-hips tea on the pedestal table next to his hand the man breathed reverently from the depths of the tacky, floral-patterned chair, “Beautiful, just beautiful. It’s what I find so appealing in your dimension. They don’t have music where I come from.”

“No music,” Joe’s grizzled chin hitched back slightly in his dismay.

“I’m afraid not dumpling. Not what we would want to call music, anyway.” Lorne said from the depths of the chair. “It’s one of the reasons I stay here. The first time I heard it, it spoke to my soul. If I have a soul. I only ‘read’ the future when someone sings, but all one has to do is listen to you play and they’d know you have had a hell-of-a life, my friend. Oh, look at the time! Here I am molly coddling and it’s time to see if we can contact one of our intrepid heroes.”

Joe started reaching for his phone and paused with his hand on the device in his pocket, one brow cocking at the humor. “Kendall threw MacLeod’s phone into the Puget Sound. I don’t think he’s had a chance to replace it yet since we have been moving pretty fast.” With a shake of emphasis with the phone, the bluesman smiled broadly, “Adam. He should still have his phone on him. Kendall didn’t get to everybody’s. He only caught MacLeod because Amanda called while he was standing there. And I think he intimidated Fitzcairn into tossing his over the side. Fitz claimed he was being shanghaied into cooperation and that was his story if anyone asked.”

Lorne reached for the phone in his tropical-weight tailored suit, chuckling at the man’s impression. “I’m pretty sure Angel, Spike, or Wesley should answer. We’ll try them. You go first. Oh,” he jumped slightly as the device began warbling, “Oh no not I, I will survive/ Oh, as long as I know how to love,/ I know I'll stay alive.”* He smiled, glancing down at the incoming call, “Speak of Angels you hear their wings flap. In this case it’s our inquisitive sorcerer.” Flipping the phone up, the man’s red lips spread in a broad smile, “Speak to me sweet tart.”

“Hello Lorne,” the Englishman said sounding tired and slightly dispirited.

“What’s wrong pumpkin? Don’t tell me we came this far only to,” Lorne’s voice trailed off, becoming silent as the younger man relayed the mixed news. After a long moment where Joe started growing alarmed, the demon held up a finger. “Jaa, uh-huh,” he said before his green features spread into a wide smile to the Watcher. “The fair damsel is safe!”
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:04 PM   #338
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 290

Returning the smile, Joe observed, “I don’t know the Lady well, but I get the impression that you really shouldn’t call Katriona a fair damsel. At least in her hearing. Not if you want to keep your teeth.”

“Oh? Feisty mama?” Lorne grinned, his expression suddenly falling. “Oh no. No – no. Oh that’s terrible! Even though she escaped the Ábą Eminánie still tried? How many? Oh dear goddess preserve us, Wes.” Growing quiet again, the gray-haired man held his callused-fingers interlaced as if in prayer before Lorne turned back to him. “It seems the Ábą Eminánie Priestess still tried to release this Momrath. Good news, he’s still trapped and it’s going to be a very long time before he can try to make another prison break. The bad news – the temple grounds resemble a small corner of Pompeii. She must have taken roughly two hundred or more souls with her. There’s people shaped stone statues all over the place."

Joe rubbed an uncomfortable hand across his face, covering his mouth in his dismay. Tired brown eyes closed silently in prayer for the natives before solemnly whispering, “You win some, you lose some -”

Out on the street below the motel’s second-floor veranda a donkey brayed as a slow moving motorcycle passed it going the opposite direction. Dawson finished with a glance for the French doors flung opened onto the early evening awaiting a stir of fresh air. The habitual late afternoon shower had taken its time before the scant clouds had sprinkled its contents on the muggy afternoon, barely cooling things off for the night. “But it could have been so much worse,” the bluesman finished.

“Is there anything we can do?” Lorne asked Wesley. “Send a medical team - what? Anything?” The Host demon paused listening before he sighed. “Well at least there were no other casualties.” To Joe he said, “The other shaman of the surrounding tribes have arrived and after investigating the area have declared the temple grounds damaged and cursed. They are forbidding anyone from ever entering the unclean grounds again and would look upon it dimly if we sent anyone to investigate or assist them. Yes,” he said to the Sorcerous Investigator. “It’s understandable. Their mess, they’ll clean it up. We’ll call if we need help. Shoo now! Write when you get work. Thank you. Good Day. Don’t let the dog bite you where the door should have hit you! So we’ll be seeing you sometime tomorrow night, dumpling?” He paused, “And we should expect Willow and Katriona any time now? All rightie then, we’ll keep a mosquito candle in the window for our girls. You call us if you need anything. Take care, bye.”

“That about wraps it up I suppose,” Joe asked a little unnecessarily, he felt.

“Yes, you’re stuck with little ol’ neurotic me for a little longer until the return of some of our fairer company.”

“And we really shouldn’t let this guitar sit silent while we could be enjoying it,” Joe said, cradling the curve of its sound box across his lap like a willing lady.
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:05 PM   #339
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Default Chapter 13 ~ pg 291

“Oh no,” Lorne uttered in whole-hearted agreement; laying his head back against the flowered headrest. “And I am thoroughly enjoying your playing, you magic-fingered doll, you. It has been a pleasure and I do believe it has been helping me keep my nerves calm. All that energy out there and some of what I sensed,” he shuddered before breathlessly exclaiming, “Thank the goddess it’s over.”

“Amen to that, brother,” Joe drawled, beginning to strum a sweetly sad cord from the instrument.

Lorne closed his eyes saying, “One would almost think you have made the deal at the crossroads, Joseph Dawson.”

“Sometimes it seems that I might have,” Joe grinned knowingly. With an affected Mississippi twang to his tone the bluesman continued, “But I’ve never found my back that far against the wall, yet.”



* Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive. Written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris Released October 1978
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:13 PM   #340
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Default Chapter 14 ~ pg 292

Chapter 14
Epilogue



May 17, 2009
To: Kupuna Kane Mikaeli Ka-’ehu-kai
From: Noelani Ka-’ehu-kai


Gran’poppi!

I’m at my wits end! I’m almost in tears from the failure that is in my heart at this moment and I am afraid I have brought our family shame. I have been found out by my assignments! I don’t know what to do! I did as Uncle Bobby told me to do when I had to come to Seacouver for the hearings about the ship, Vinnie and Tex’s deaths, and to follow Katriona and Kendall. I reported to the Regional Director, Joseph Dawson, as I was told. You might have heard of him, even though you’re retired now. He’s that Watcher that revealed the Watchers to his assignment, Duncan MacLeod, during the Rogue fiasco several years ago just after you retired. He also discovered the identity of Methos when he was hiding inside the Organization. I had heard the discussions back at the Academy that he had befriended the two Immortals. They updated the curriculum because of him! I just had this feeling it was going to be a disaster. I was nervous about reporting to Dawson as ordered, but I did as I was told, and much as I feared, Katri and Ken have found out about me!

He was following procedure, I suppose, considering I had been placed in jeopardy in pursuit of my vow and he was keeping tabs on me. Trying to make sure I wasn’t traumatized by the event and needed to see the Organizations Psychiatrists. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to answer the FBI’s questions that might be put to me about the night in question. For once I wanted to start standing on my own as a Watcher and not run to you or Uncle Bobby for advice. I went to Dawson thinking there might be some protocol about meetings with the FBI, since I would have to meet with them over the hijacking of the ‘Morrigans’ Curse’ last month and he was telling me that I had to go. The best thing to do was to stick to the facts as best I could. That everything was plausible up to and including being on deck at 4 in the morning and he thought I could say I was on deck that early e-mailing home. Parents and family like to hear from you, it was before my shift would start and I was not up that much earlier than I normally would have been. Which all sounded so very plausible at the time and the FBI has accepted my deposition.

Anyway, that’s when Kendall and Katriona walked into the bar. Running a Blues Bar is Dawson’s cover story in Seacouver and it is a meeting place for the Watchers in the area. It had already been arranged that what crew were in town were supposed to meet there later and Mina and Barney had an announcement to make. They eloped in Vegas, by the way. Anyway, Katriona and Kendall arrived early with Duncan MacLeod and Kendall saw me at the table talking to Dawson! Then he remembered Mina asking about my tattoo. You might remember meeting her last summer at the luau for Aukai’s 21st birthday. She saw it and commented on the blasted thing the night of the attack asking if it were tribal or something. That the tattoo just didn’t seem like me. I wish I had never gotten it! I didn’t want the stupid thing! It HURT!

But as I was saying, they had found out about Dawson and the Watchers a few days earlier, then seeing me there talking with him… Well, Kendall ain’t stupid! He might come off as laid-back and often a clown – you read his Chronicles with me, you know! But he is hardly a stupid man. There is a keen, cunning, and calculating mind behind that friendly exterior. He put two and two together damned fast!
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