Then, among the warm tones, we see a flash, like a glint of metal. Felicia freezes instantly. She sniffs the air: oiled steel, leather and the unforgettable scent of unwashed Dwarf. She growls softly, regretting that she had left behind her crossbow. Knowing what to look for, she quickly identifies four fully armed and armoured dwarven warriors. The tiger lurking just below the surface is longing for a fight, but Felicia knows she wouldn’t survive alone.
Despite conflicting instincts, she raises empty hands and calls out, “Hail and well-met, Bearded Ones. I’m just passing through this lovely evening, and I have no quarrel with you.” The only response is the whoosh of a battle-axe being readied.
A figure steps into the moonlight; there is a whisper of steel as the stranger unsheathes an elaborate sabre. “I have no interest in the Clan MacLeod. I want the so-called World’s Oldest Immortal: the past his prime Methos who would rather show his back than his blade.”
Duncan risks a quick look back at his friend. Methos shrugs helplessly as he scrambles onto the deck of the houseboat: “Not my fault” he mouths silently. Duncan sighs audibly as he turns back to his opponent.
She flashes her best fast-talker’s smile: “Look, I like a good racially-motivated feud as much as the next person, but this really isn’t a good time for a fight. How about we both go our separate ways, no honour lost on either side.”
One of the dwarves barks a laugh: “But it’s always a good time for a Fae bashing.” Felicia risks a quick glance to the West. She sees the sun dangerously close to the horizon, and two of the dwarves trying to surround her. The fact that she hadn’t heard those walking stoves was a bad sign.
Duncan didn’t like this Immortal already: the stranger’s sword looked older than he did, and he had the overconfident attitude of a bully. Mac slips out of his trench coat, letting it drop behind him. “Methos is just a story. Nobody could be that old, not even one of Us. But if you’re going after my friend here, then you’ll have to take me out first.”
The stranger hesitates for a moment, then seems to pull together his bravado. He flourishes his blade and grins. “No argument here. After all, two heads are better than one.”
Felicia calls up a spell: first pointing at one dwarf, then making a
throwing gesture at the other. Suddenly a throwing axe leaps from the first
dwarf’s belt, flying towards his partner. It’s hard to see in the fading
light, but Felicia is rewarded with a solid « thunk » and a
gurgling scream. The sun touches the horizon, flooding the forest with
a red glow; the smell of blood is in the air.
Fighting down the tiger inside, Felicia looks for an escape. Some magical Poltergeists provide excellent distraction as she retreats from her overhead perch. Already beginning to feel her body change, Felicia is desperate. She activates her precious Teleport necklace, but just as she tries to pick a target, the full force of the tiger submerges all rational thought. She feels the sickening wrench of magic gone horribly wrong…
Duncan brings up his katana; “It’s a pity you know, I never even found out your name.” Calmly, dispassionately, the Highlander brings down the blade in a finishing stroke. Feeling the energy begin to gather, he braces himself for the Quickening. The force when it hits him is stronger than he expected, seemingly ferocious. Four centuries never prepared him for anything like this; the katana falls from his hand and as he blacks out Duncan is almost certain he hears a bestial roar…
A magnificent white tiger is crouched possessively over his katana. Its head dips down to sniff the bloodstained blade, somehow still managing to maintain eye contact. The gaze moves from Duncan, to the blade, to the headless corpse, and back to Duncan again, as if it had come to an intelligent conclusion.
If the Buzz had a voice, this is what it would be. A feeling both within him and around him, it spoke not in words but in concepts. « Ma Cloud. Warrior: Hunter, not Prey ». The presence withdrew, leaving behind a sense of approval and reluctant admiration.
In a single graceful movement, the great cat arises and steps back from the sword. It pauses, as though expectant. Only when the Highlander reaches down and retrieves his blade does the apparition slip away, fading into the mist like a ghost cat.