Niebos, Greece 2003
After a late dinner the three immortals gathered for brandy on the terrace. Around them the house quietly settled as Phillip's servants were dismissed for the evening and returned to their homes in the village below. Below them in the night air, Eleanor could hear their voices as they made their way down the mountain.
She settled onto the comfortable chaise and folded her legs beneath her while quietly observing her friends. They were discussing the merits of brandy, as though it were a topic they had never before discussed. She doubted there was any beverage left they had not talked about. Those two had been at this since they had initially met in Rome in the first century. The merits of spirits was always one of their first discussions.
Phillip's brown hair was longer than when last she had seen him, six years ago. He'd let it grow chin length... but it seemed just grown out... not styled. His beard was slightly longer and a bit straggly too. Perhaps these were subtle signs of his grieving. He wore white cotton trousers... clam diggers she thought she had once heard them called, a faded chambray shirt and scuffed leather sandals. Somehow, he no longer looked like the fable "Swordmaster" of her youth. He was just a genial middle-aged looking man with a big booming voice and a tendency to drink too much. She wondered if he could still wield a blade as he used to. She wondered if he even wanted to.
Methos on the other hand looked very smooth. He had obviously dropped the Adam Pierson persona of research geek for the Watchers and looked for all the world like some very dangerous gangster or drug lord in his sleek silk shirt, Italian leather shoes, and crisply pressed khaki pants. Sleek and dangerous... yes, that was it. She could almost smell a recent quickening on him. "So," she thought, "not only is he more free about who he is... he is once more in the game." She shuddered. He glanced up from his brandy and eyed her darkly over it but said nothing.
Her own appearance she knew was telling. For one thing, Phillip was right, she was dangerously thin. But food had not seemed important to her in ages. She could not remember the last time she had eaten with any sort of appetite. For years she had eaten if food were placed in front of her... but only then and only a few bites. Just enough to satisfy whoever was trying to get her to eat.
At meals today with Phillip she had tried to eat... but although she had pushed food around on the plate... she had actually taken in very little... but she had tried. Given time in this place and with Phillip to help, perhaps she could do better.
She had bobbed her hair after the incident in the states, glad to be rid of the last of the greasy blonde-streaked locks she had worn for so long. Her hair was its own dark black again and the cut made it move in a graceful arc when she danced. Eleanor smiled recalling that last dance with Derrick the day she had left. She had wanted him to see her at her best, once before she left. One of the truly great improvements of the past century had been the sudden change in women's hairstyles. She hated it long now. She had worn it long for centuries. With the shearing of her locks, she had tasted freedom.
The pale green linen sheath she wore, buttoned down the front, only accented her thinness though. That and her thin arms sticking out from the sleeveless dress. Eleanor knew Methos had given her attire a quick once over to assess where her weapon was. She knew he knew. And he knew she knew he knew. She took a small sip of the brandy... feeling it was wasted on her. She would have as soon had water.
She focused on the men's conversation trying to pick up the thread of it.
"So I have decided not to fly anywhere any more. With all this going on... it's next to impossible to get a sword onto a plane. And I don't like the thought of being without mine while waiting at the baggage claim. What if they lost my baggage? What would I do then?" Phillip hadn't been anywhere in years, but that hadn't stopped him from expressing an opinion about new airline security rules.
"Yes, they are very careful these days." Methos had agreed. As always he seemed to take it in but gave nothing away. "How did you manage?" He looked at her.
Eleanor shrugged and smiled. What he didn't know might give her an edge if it came to it. She set the brandy on the table. "So what's the agenda this time, Phillip?"
"I thought we might take the Pilgrim's Path up Mt. Niebos tomorrow to the temple complex ruins and then down to the beach. Low tide is scheduled for early afternoon."
"Not the Pilgrim's Path..." Methos was obviously not pleased. "We can just as easily go around by the beach."
"Ahh... my friend... then you miss the point. It is not the destination but the journey that is important... and..." he paused for dramatic effect, "I thought we would go barefoot." Phillip made a mocking face at both of his friends as they groaned at the thought.
"It will give us all time to face our losses," he finished up soberly. "I think we all need that." His words were met with a silent affirmation. They did need that... all of them. "We can make an early night of it tonight... get a good night's rest and then leave first thing tomorrow. Are we agreed?"
"We are agreed..." the less than enthusiastic Methos and Eleanor said together. It was an old, old game and if this is what Phillip wanted this was what they would do. He had always been the planner of their many escapades over the centuries. It was he who had always set the tone.
"Now," said Phillip changing the topic, "what did you think of Carlo's murals?"
Eleanor settled back to listen to them... her two teachers... her two oldest friends... discussing art... painting techniques... and eventually their mortal loves recently lost.
Since she had never met this Alexa that had charmed Methos, she was content to just listen. From what he said of her... Eleanor thought she would have liked her. She could still see an edge of grief in his eyes when he spoke of her, although it had been several years. They had had such a short time together. He had wanted to show her the world before it was too late. He had failed. But what he had shown her... was special. Eleanor had seldom seen this side of her friend. Only rarely... and never for long.
As for Carlo... Eleanor smiled. She hadn't known him well, but since Phillip had met him in Rome in 1980 she had flitted in and out of their lives. Carlo knew they were immortal. Phillip had shared that with him fairly early in the relationship. He had seldom done that with his companions... but the artist had a passion for getting the details right... and that meant learning and understanding the long past of Phillip. And Phillip had always loved to tell stories.
When she had met Carlo, he had looked at her as if she were some kind of threat... but then as the tales were told, he had begun to sketch their adventures as caricatures. Now some of those were incorporated into some of the murals on the villa walls. Her favorite mural was the one at the end of the hall. To anyone unfamiliar with the immortals' story, it merely appeared as though some artist had painted some friends of his as Dumas' Three Musketeers. Phillip was painted as Porthos... Methos was Athos... she, complete with mustache and goatee, was D'Artagnan. And in the background... not quite one of them was Darius as Aramis.
Eleanor shook her head and re-focused on the conversation. They were toasting them all now... all the mortals they had loved over the years... all the brief lights in their long lives that had burned brightly for a portion of a single lifetime and then burned out. They looked at her expectantly to add to the list but she shook her head. She had nothing to add. Not this time.
It wasn't that she had never been in love, she had. She just wasn't ready to share them. Not the most recent ones... not now... but the discussion had finally helped her thoughts gradually move beyond the mantra of the last time she had seen Darius... and backward in time... each event further and further back. Some of them brought a smile to her face... some did not. But at least they were memories other than that last aborted farewell that she could not change.
When she retired to her room and climbed into the wide bed alone...
it was those events she dreamed of...
To Everything a Season--Spring
Paris, Spring 1980
Eleanor walked purposely into the church, but there was a slight skipping motion to her stride. She could sense Darius alone in his cell, but as there were several parishioners milling about, she genuflected piously in the nave before knocking at his door and quietly entering.
He was seated at his table working on some papers.
"Just what the hell were you thinking," she tossed out teasingly as she closed the door behind her. Normally it would remain open but she did not want anyone to overhear them.
"Good day to you too, Eleanor!" Darius smiled and then returned to studying his papers, all the while tapping the fountain pen absently against the side of his head.
Eleanor crossed the room and snatched the papers out of his hands and held them above her head. "You sent your Watcher to spy on me at the hospital!"
"If you are referring to Ian Bancroft... he wanted to know where you worked. I believe he wanted to ask you to dinner."
Eleanor glanced around at the closed door and lowered her voice, "But he's your Watcher!"
"I am aware of that fact... now may I please have my sermon back." He reached for the papers. She held them higher. He sighed and laid the pen down and leaned back in his chair. "I will not argue with you."
"Don't you think it was just a little bit odd that he wanted to have dinner with me?" She tossed the papers back on his table and paced about the room. "I was absolutely floored when he showed up at the emergency room. I didn't know what to do..."
"I'm certain you managed." Darius righted the papers and began studying them once more. "Besides, he seems like a very nice man despite his occupation."
"He is a nice man... but a date?" Eleanor stopped pacing and flung herself into one of the hard wooden chairs. She crossed her ankles and folded her arms across her chest.
"So... where are you going?"
"We're not... I told him I'd just gotten out of a relationship and was not interested in a new one. And that's the truth." She uncrossed her arms. "Don't worry... I was nice to him. I told him maybe we could be friends."
"I am certain you broke his heart."
"Hah! Opera! He wanted to take me to the Opera! You know how I loathe the opera!"
Darius chuckled, "I am certain he would have accommodated a request for a different venue on your part."
"Well... I did say maybe we could check out some jazz and blues clubs some time" She smiled wickedly and arched both of her eyebrows... "Then to top it off he wanted to introduce me to some friend of his who knew a lot about jazz." Eleanor sulked, "Probably another Watcher."
"So when are you going?" Darius made a correction on his sermon.
"I don't know yet. I haven't made up my mind. Do you want me to go? Do you have something you need for me to discover from them? Do you need me to go undercover among them again?" She was almost eager for an assignment! More so than she had been in several years.
"Not at this time. If you go... try to have a pleasant time." Darius smiled as though it were an end to the conversation.
Eleanor pushed her glasses up over her nose with her middle finger... smiled mockingly at the priest and left.
Maybe she should go on this date that wasn't a date. Darius was playing too many games with his Watchers. He should just tell them he knew about them and then let them interview him. Maybe she could let something slip to Bancroft... maybe... maybe not.
Anyway...she didn't really think she was in their files. She hadn't been the last time she had slipped inside their ranks. The most that was in their records were obtuse allusions to a "green eyed" immortal no one could quite remember how to describe. The references were older than she was. Likely Aja was the source of many of them. Some of the rest were Eleanor herself. But the others...? She didn't know who they were.
She glanced up at the gathering clouds in the pale blue sky. It might rain, she thought and once more adjusted the glasses she wore in this life over her brown tinted contact lenses and tossed her auburn hair. She was in disguise.
She doubted Joaquin Carrera would find her again... but she didn't want to take any chances. She wasn't afraid for herself... he had already made it quite clear he didn't want her head and she already knew she could defeat him. She had easily run him through with her short sword in Hawaii eleven years ago... but she had controlled the urge to be done with him. He was so young and maybe, if he lived long enough, he might finally learn something and move beyond the hatreds leftover from his mortal life. Besides, she feared his hatred might upset her own carefully constructed balance between self-destructive madness, rage, and calm.
Eleanor had had no further dealings with him since then, but it might only be a matter of time. She didn't want to risk letting another mortal into her life again just so the Chilean madman could threaten to kill them. No... It was best to keep her distance. If only she dared take his head... Eleanor shuddered. Within her the raging madness that had once been Kae Dhun laughed maniacally. It was such a balancing act sometimes... she did not want to lose herself again. She had worked too long and too hard for her balance. She wouldn't lose it now.
When she passed a blues club on her way back to the hospital, she almost
stopped and went in for a drink. But she had no time for dancing... not
today... not this lifetime. She hurried past.
To Everything a Season--Summer
Paris, Summer 1965
"Lift your foot and then hop like this." Eleanor quickly danced the steps to the Jewish traditional dance and waited while she watched to see if Darius could manage them. Awkwardly he did so... but only just.
"I do not know why you persist in this madness."
"So... teaching you to dance is madness is it." She shoved him playfully then laughed. "Come on you old faker, once again..." With a patient sigh, Darius tried again. Eleanor nearly collapsed in laughter. He was so funny sometimes. He had lifted the hem of his robe slightly so he could watch his sandal-clad feet in the steps and Eleanor thought she had never seen anything quite so ridiculous as a Roman Catholic monk in full regalia lifting his hem and trying to dance Hava Nagila. Then suddenly he seemed to get it and ended with a flourish.
"Bravo!" Eleanor clapped.
"It reminds me of some of the folk dances I danced as a boy."
"Really..." Eleanor smiled and arched one eyebrow.
"Enough for today... it is too hot for this and I am thirsty. Come sit in the shade with me a while." As they sat, bees buzzed about them from his nearby hives and the flowers waved in the slight breeze of the warm summer sunshine. "I believe Israel was good for you." Darius at last said. He offered her some water.
"Mmmm... I wish I could have stayed longer. As it was I probably stayed too long. But I wanted to be there when Miriam's first child was born. I had to stay for that."
"You raised her well..."
"I had to. She and Joshua had no one else. And it was good to be needed as a person, not just a healer. It was good to be able to help someone again... really help someone... really make a difference in someone's life. It had been so long."
"Will you be staying in Paris very long this time?" His voice was that of a friend and friends they were. Friends and trusted confidants of each other's darkest secrets. It had taken some doing to get back to that. It had taken several lifetimes in fact. Some of the old ease and banter was at last returning to their conversations.
"I hear there is a war in Southeast Asia... I may be going there next.
But not just yet! I want to lay back and enjoy the Paris summer." Eleanor
stretched her arms out on the wooden bench and reveled in the sunshine
that did not burn and the gentle breezes that did not throw sand in her
face. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She could not remember
being so happy, so content, in so very long... and she owed it to two orphan
children and to this gentle priest who always seemed to say just what she
needed to hear.
To Everything a Season: Autumn
Paris, Autumn 1940
The sound of machine guns echoed in the next street. Eleanor held little Miriam in her arms and Joshua by the hand as she carefully made her way between the sounds and the evidence of the fighting. Paris, for the most part, would be spared any bombing, but there was still some street fighting.
Right now her concerns were for the children. Their parents had entrusted them to her when they realized that the Nazis were now in control of Paris. They were to split up. Eleanor was to take the children and get them out of the city. If possible, David and Rachel would meet them in London.
Eleanor had many contacts and with her immortal training, she was a more likely guardian for the children than the meek banker and his fretful wife. They were good parents... they just weren't equipped to handle resistance against the Nazi's. Eleanor was worried about them... she had heard some things about what might be happening further east in the Warsaw ghetto and in other places.
"These things will not happen here... after all this is still France!" David had said. So she had taken the children, deciding it was better if she could at least save two lives.
The first thing she had done was to remove the yellow stars the children wore. It was foolishness to advertise who they were. She gave them new names to use until she could get them to safety. She drilled them, and then they had started on their way.
Unfortunately, the resistance cell she was supposed to meet up with had been compromised and she was cut off from the others she knew of. The street fighting had led her into an all too familiar section of Paris. One she had avoided for many years. Miriam/Anna whimpered in her arms and Joshua/Michael had stumbled. She had to find a place for them to rest. Eleanor knew where she would have to take them... but she did not know if she were still welcome at Darius' church. At present, though, she had no other choice.
Quickly they crossed the street and were through the gate and up to the church steps when the immortal priest opened the door. He had sensed her coming and had come to investigate who was entering holy ground.
"I need sanctuary for the children, Darius."
He stood aside and let her enter. She shuddered even as she crossed the threshold... but there was no earthquake, no tremor, and no storms. Not this time. Darius closed the door behind them and replaced the large wooden barrier across the doors.
"I dislike barring them but these Nazi's are all too intrusive. They do not seem to respect a church."
"Mortals seldom do."
Darius shot her a sharp glance and then smiled at Miriam and caressed her head. "Jewish?"
Eleanor nodded and explained the situation briefly. "I thought we could hide in the crypt if that were all right with you? Just for tonight."
He nodded as he led the way to the underground crypt beneath the church. "Take them on down, there are some candles down there and I will get some blankets, water and food for you." He pressed the mechanism on the back of the altar and the stone moved with a grinding shudder. Eleanor descended into the darkness.
She lit the candles she found on the small wooden shelf and looked around. It did not seem that he had been down here recently. Perhaps he had stopped brewing the mead. She smiled at the memory of that gathering the four of them had had so many centuries before.
"Marie..." three-year old Miriam pulled at her guardian's skirt. "I'm hungry."
"Me too!" seven-year old Joshua added, chiming in just because his younger sister had said something. Above them they heard the priest descend into the crypt, his arms loaded with blankets.
"I'll have to go over to the refectory to get some food, but it shouldn't take long. I'll close up the crypt while I'm gone." Darius handed her the blankets and whispered. "I have missed you Eleanor."
Eleanor smiled weakly and nodded. He had forgiven her. She wondered why she had even feared he would not. As always, he seemed to know and say what she most needed to hear. Not what she wanted to hear... but what she needed. Their fingers touched briefly in the exchange of the blankets and Eleanor knew, no matter what happened this night... the past was forgotten.
Several hours later, once the children were fed and bedded down for the night, Eleanor and Darius sat on two of the small wooden stools that had once held the mead casks. They whispered so they would not disturb the children. He knew some resistance contacts and he would make the arrangements tomorrow. She and the children would be safe down here. Only he and she knew the way in. There was little chance anyone would stumble on the secret... at least no one had since the church had been built in the twelfth century, shortly after they had first met.
Eventually Eleanor told him of her travels since leaving Paris eleven years before. She didn't tell him everything. She did not tell him of the bloody massacre at the village of San Petro nor of the immortal she had left buried there. She was still afraid that was a horror that might yet come back to haunt her. But she told him of everything else. And... She offered an apology. "I was terrible to you that night."
"You were very drunk."
"No... I was just being..." she paused and shrugged and smiled. He laughed at her imitation of his own movement.
"Who needs a mirror when you are around." He laughed with her and it was a good laugh that seemed to wipe away the darkness of that last confrontation. "I need to go up now. I will bring you fresh water and I will try to get some milk for the children if any can be found." He leaned over and gently kissed her forehead. Then he rose and left.
Eleanor waited until the crypt was sealed, then she let the tears flow. She had held it all in for so long! Within her Kae Dhun struggled to break free, but she held him in. He always waited for when she was tired, as she was now. What was it Methos had tried to teach her... Eastern meditation? Eleanor settled onto the floor of the crypt and crossed her legs. She focused on the calm center, took a deep breath, and tried to erase all thought from her mind. Gradually Kae Dhun ceased his struggles and faded back into the darkness. Eventually she stirred, blew out the candles and settled down to sleep.
The children were restless the next morning, but brightened up when Darius opened the crypt and brought down some breakfast... some hard rolls, some cheese, some fruit, he had even found a little milk. The crypt was small and not made for young children who would be happier running and playing in the gardens above.
"The Germans are patrolling the streets. I have sent one of the parish boys to take a message to the underground. We should hear back later today," he told her as she tried to settle the children and keep them quiet.
He handed her a childrens' book from his library. "Perhaps this will help." He grinned.
It was Le Chanson de Frère Jacques et La Belle Marie. Eleanor giggled with an almost girlish delight and covered her mouth to keep from being too loud. She recalled the first time they had found a copy of that book. The gawdy red, gold and black plates illustrating the story of the legend of the mysterious day laborer and the Gypsy girl had ended up becoming one of their favorite treasures.
"Frère Jacques," the story told, "wandered the streets of Paris anonymously leaving gold coins in the hands of the worthy poor, while the beautiful Gypsy girl who had stolen his heart danced on the steps of Notre Dame. But their love could never be." Eleanor smiled. "For he was doomed to walk the night and she was doomed to walk the day" went the refrain.
"Amazing how tales get twisted in the telling," Eleanor, who knew the truth of the tale's origins, had once told him.
"Who is to say what is the truth," had been Darius' reply that day.
"I'm certain they will enjoy it," Eleanor murmured softly as she flipped through the pages. "Thank you!"
Darius acknowledged her thanks with a smile and went up the stairs. "I'll try to leave the crypt open for awhile so you can have some light and fresh air. The doors are still barred so it should be safe enough."
It was early afternoon when Eleanor heard a sound from above. She shushed the children and warned them to stay below. Cautiously she crept up the steps, her knife close at hand. Darius was at the church doors admitting a young woman in dark clothes. They spoke together quietly a moment then approached Eleanor.
"This is Madeline...she is with a resistance cell," Darius gestured toward the young woman who curtly nodded her greeting to Eleanor. Eleanor began to explain the problem and mentioned some of the code words she knew to let Madeline know she was on the level. Madeline did the same.
"Can you help me get them out of Paris safely." Eleanor finally asked the young resistance fighter.
"I think so Madame, I am to guide you to someone who can help." The young woman seemed very self-assured.
A sudden pounding at the church door interrupted them! They could hear the insistent commands without the church. The Germans were here!
Madeline looked about fearfully, "I am so sorry. I should have been more careful! Is there another way out?"
"Alas, no..." Darius said, "but go below... both of you... I will deal with this."
"Below...?" Madeline's eyes at last fell on the gaping maw of the entrance to the crypt. "Ohh... sanctuary." She nodded and started down the steps.
Just then, the beating at the door turned into a major crash and the door splintered. Eleanor reached over to the stone mechanism and shut the crypt on Madeline's descending form. Her eyes met Darius'. The immortals would have to face this together.
"Follow my lead this time, trust my judgement!" Darius whispered. Eleanor bit her lips, but nodded her agreement.
The German patrol entered the church... their machine guns waving about as if there were a party of Resistance in the small church awaiting them with guns. An officer entered and barked orders as his men searched the church.
The officer walked up to the immortal pair and regarded them a moment. His eyes moved up and down Eleanor, then he motioned to one of the men to grab her. "You are not the one who came in here... but you will do for now." He motioned for them to take her out of here.
"Yes... " thought Eleanor, "take me out of this place and I will deal with the likes of you." Within her the ever present voice of Kae Dhun once more struggled, his dark rage beginning to boil. Below her, the ground seemed to murmur as his darkness became hers.
Darius spread his arms, "This is a church... search all you care to... we are the only ones here. Take what you need... leave the woman... she is not what you think she is. She will not be able to give you any information." He spoke in flawless German... as if to gain their trust... as if to calm the situation.
The officer moved very close to Darius. "Be careful, priest, or I will take you as well." He snapped his fingers and turned to leave, motioning his men to bring Eleanor with them.
Darius reached out to the officer, "Please... for your own safety... leave her here."
The officer turned a sneer across his face. Quietly he unsnapped his holster, pulled his Luger, and shot Darius in the head.
"Nooo!..." screamed Eleanor, and struggled in the Nazi soldier's grip. All about her the ground seemed to tremble with her rising rage and despair. She was powerless here! Darius would be back... but they had no right to do this... they would pay... they would pay!
The officer re-holstered his gun, re-snapped the flap, and then stood before the struggling Eleanor calmly. He smiled then harshly slapped her face. "Take her out of here!" he ordered and followed them out of the church without a backward glance at the body of the meddlesome priest.
Eleanor continued to struggle. She wanted to run to Darius! She needed to be certain he was all right. The shot had been so close to the head! What if there was too much damage? She struggled some more... then realized they had left the church.
Soon!" she thought. "Soon!" She stopped struggling and glared at the officer's back as they took their final steps off of holy ground. She stopped and twisted about in the German soldier's grasp. She lashed out to break his neck then tossed him away as if he were a lifeless toy. The officer turned, his eyes narrowed. Eleanor reached out swiftly with her right hand and closed it with all her immortal strength about the shocked officer's throat before he could say anything. She closed and twisted her hand in a fierce fist and pulled with great satisfaction!
The remains of his throat dripped from her fist. His eyes widened. His hands tried to stop the gushing of the blood. He slowly collapsed onto the pavement.
Eleanor laughed maniacally as the machine guns' bullets tore into her and she surrendered to the darkness.
When she came to herself again... she quietly assessed her surroundings before making any sudden movement. Her body had been stacked near several others in a nearby street. A bored German sentry was pacing back and forth observing the quiet street. He was obviously wishing he were in an engagement elsewhere.
Eleanor waited until his back was turned, then crept into the shadows. Hopefully, he would never notice that one body was missing.
She swiftly assessed the damage and pulled at the bloody bullet holes in her light gray dress. She was unarmed. Someone had found her knife. Her sword was in her coat, but that was still in the crypt. She would need to find other attire... and quickly.
She slipped into an alleyway and saw drying laundry on a line. As she passed by, she quickly collected a dark navy dress she knew was too big for her... but it would have to do. Finding a sheltered corner she removed her own dress and slip... letting the bloody rags drop to the ground. She kicked them away from her, pulled on the substitute dress and adjusted it.
She raised her right hand to run her fingers through her hair but paused looking at it. The dried blood and gore still staining her fingers gave her a sense of unreality. She turned her hand over as if it were something belonging to someone else. "Water..." she thought. "I need water to wash up."
She located a fountain and plunged her hands in. The blood dissolved away... but even then... she could still see traces under her nails. "Later..." she thought, "I'll clean them later." Now she had to get back to the church, back to Darius and back to the children... if they were still there.
She found him scrubbing the blood from the floor of the nave. She paused in the splintered doorway. He looked at her sadly, then rose. She ran to him and held him. He made no motion of welcome. He must be angry with her! He pushed her away. Slowly he lifted her still bloody hand and turned it over. His face was filled with such pain.
"The children?" she finally asked attempting to change the subject.
"They are still below with Madeline... I thought I should clean things up a bit before letting them out." He turned from her and resumed the scrubbing of the stone floor.
Eleanor breathed a sigh of relief. She knelt beside him, "Let me help," she offered quietly.
"I can manage..." His voice betrayed his pain. "Could you not this once have just gone along with them meekly. Did they have to die?"
"No!" Eleanor continued to kneel. "I couldn't... I couldn't control him..."
"Are you so certain it was the voice of Kae Dhun?" he asked finally satisfied that the floor was blood-free. He tossed the brush into the bucket of bloody water and rose to carry it out of the church.
She followed him. "You need to leave this place. You are not safe here! Someday someone will come and kill you and you will not rise. They have no fear of violence in this place. It is we are powerless!"
"Who would come? What could they do? Who would know? Only the Watchers know and they only watch. I have work to do..." He tossed out the water angrily and returned to the church. He stopped midway up the nave and sighed, apparently regaining his composure. "It is only you who desecrates this place. You who continually brings violence here."
"Why will you never listen to me?" she yelled. She had followed him once more into the church... this time the ground began to murmur with her presence. "You have been here too long!"
"And whose fault is that?" He said curtly. Then he paused as if carefully considering his words and turned to her with an even greater sadness. "Whose fault is it that I am still here."
Tears brimmed in her eyes, "That's not fair and you know it."
"Then kill me and be done with it!"
"Never... I will never kill you... I will never kill you."
He sighed and shrugged his shoulders. "Then I will remain... and you will go... and the world will go on. Now, let us get the children so Madeline can get them to safety. She must be concerned down there that no one will come to let them out. As it is, they have been down there too long already."
Eleanor bowed her head meekly and acquiesced. In this time and in this place... it was the children who mattered.
As soon as it opened, Miriam bounded up out of the crypt and ran into Eleanor's arms. Eleanor held her and then picked her up. Joshua ran to hug them both. For Eleanor, it was the best medicine... the touch of the children could help her regain control. For them... she could turn from the darkness still swirling like a great whirlwind in her mind.
When she left the underground crypt, Madeline looked about as if wondering what had taken so long... but then indicated that they had to go.
Miriam held up the book, and shyly offered it back to Darius. He smiled..."Take it with you...it's a gift." She held it close to her with a broad smile and her wide black eyes were filled with joy.
"Truly it is mine?"
"Truly it is yours," and Darius kissed the little girl's head with a smile. Already his own anger had seemed to vanish.
Eleanor met his gaze and nodded gratefully. As always, Darius seemed
to know just what she had needed to hear... and to do just what she needed
so that she could calm her demons for another day. "Thank you..." She smiled.
"I'll be in touch." Meanwhile within her she thought over and over again,
"I will never kill him... never! Not for you Kae Dhun... not for Darius,
when he asks it of me... not for me. I will never kill him! Never!"
To Everything a Season--Winter
Paris, Winter 1929
The jazzy blues filled the smoke-filled club and the sounds of people drinking at the bar and conversing in drunken voices surrounded her. Eleanor swayed on the barstool and glanced at her reflection in the mirror. The short platinum bob still did not look quite real on her... she took a long drink and then drew in a long breath on her cigarette in its holder. She blew out the offending smoke and smiled at the bartender.
"Once more, Pierre." She gave him a coy wink loaded with meaning as he re-filled her glass with the smooth whiskey. "A double."
"Of course, mademoiselle," and he returned the look. She turned about on the barstool and gazed about the room. The singer concluded her number and was met with polite applause. Eleanor looked over the crowd deciding just who she would play with tonight.
From near the entrance she felt another. She did not look in that direction. Perhaps he wouldn't notice her if she failed to respond. But she was aware that someone had taken a seat in a dark corner. Gradually she turned back to the bar and oh so casually glanced at the table in the corner. Her eyes widened. She picked up her drink and went to join him.
"Fancy meeting you here!" she said as she sat down next to Darius. "Frère Jacques, I presume!" She leaned back in the chair and regarded the disguised priest darkly. "Come out to play have you?" Eleanor purposely crossed her legs, letting the short flapper dress reveal more skin that it should. She smiled at his obvious discomfort and took another long puff on the cigarette. She held it a moment, then purposely exhaled into his face. She smiled.
"Eleanor... you shouldn't be doing this..."
"Michelle... I am Michelle this life." Eleanor snapped at him. She stuck her tongue out slightly and licked her finger. She motioned to the bartender to bring two drinks then downed the one already before her. She waited patiently while the drinks were brought. She shoved one over in front of Darius. "So what brings you out on a cold night like this?"
"You... I heard you were in town... I was worried... you hadn't come to see me."
"Why should I... has anything changed?"
"You know it hasn't."
"Then give me a reason to come."
"This is madness..." he gestured about the club. "You are being entirely too self-destructive. You have a gift... you are killing yourself with this behavior."
"What if I am... it's my life."
"Come back with me... I will help you through this darkness... we will work something out."
"Don't you understand? I don't want to work something out... what I want is for you to leave me be!" But even as she said it, she knew that was not what she really wanted. She drew once more on the cigarette. But it tasted hot and harsh. She pulled it out of the holder and stubbed it out on the table. Then in frustration she tossed both it and the holder away.
She leaned over to him and said pointedly, "You know how I feel. That hasn't changed. It doesn't matter that it wasn't planned... that it wasn't right... that it just is! Now go away."
She rose to leave.
He reached out to grab her hand. She twisted free of his grasp then leaned over him. "Stay in your own world, priest. Come here again, come into my world and I swear to you I will kill you where you stand." She pulled back, grabbed the light coat she had left on the barstool, and stormed off and out of the club.
She went two blocks and then halted in an alleyway to wait. He would follow... she knew he would follow. But he didn't. And her rage grew. She stormed through the night daring anyone to approach her. Clear out of my way... petty mortals! she thought and kept walking.
Eventually her steps had taken her where she knew they would. She hesitated outside the sphere of acknowledgment... too far to feel him... too far for him to feel her. Eleanor leaned against the wall and waited until all was in darkness.
When she was calm, she drew her knife. She turned it over and over in her hands and glared at the church. Within her Kae Dhun laughed, "Kill him... kill him." Yes, perhaps it was time. She hefted the knife and ran swiftly across the street and into the darkened church. He was in his cell... good. She flung open the door and saw him turning on the lights as he sat defenseless on the edge of the bed. He stood and spread wide his arms as if in sacrifice.
She stepped toward him and she felt the ground murmur. She hesitated then lowered her knife. She shook with the force of the fury within her. The other voices within tried to drown out Kae Dhun. But he was too strong for them this time. But he was not too strong for her. She lifted her arm and sliced through it with the knife to watch the blood flow freely before she healed once again. And then she screamed!
She whirled about the room slicing at the tapestries, knocking over the furniture, smashing anything that would break. She lashed out at everything but him... never at him. And Darius stood there and quietly let the storm pass.
When she was finished, she threw the knife at his feet and stormed out of the church, knocking over the chairs in her wake.
Outside, a winter storm had finally broken through, and a cold rain fell. Rough winds buffeted her. Her sleeveless flapper dress and thin coat were not enough to protect her from its fury. But nature's storm overwhelmed her own and finally she just wandered aimlessly about the streets.
It was a child's pleas that finally made her aware of her surroundings once more. "Ma mère," the child called pleadingly, "Ma mère..." Eleanor halted. A little girl was crouched over the body of a woman lying in the streets. "Ma mère!" she cried.
Eleanor knelt down and felt the woman's cold hand and lack of pulse. She picked up the little girl roughly. "Where do you live?" The child shrugged, so Eleanor tried another question, "Where is your Père?" The little girl shook her head. "Do you have someone else?"
"Ma mère's sister... my Tante Celeste... but she and ma mère had a fight last night at her house and now ma mère just lies there."
The rain had begun to let up. Eleanor carried the little girl out into the street over her protestations. "Hush... we are going to get some help for your poor ma mère!" she finally told the child harshly and glanced up and down the street looking for a gendarme.
When she found one... she quickly explained the situation and led him back to the woman's body. He went to the nearest call box. Soon, an ambulance and other authorities had arrived. All the while, Eleanor held the crying child in her arms, carefully murmuring into her ear and trying to calm her. But her words fell on deaf ears. Perhaps her magic had finally left her... banished by the darkness.
Near dawn, the woman's body was loaded in an ambulance. Eleanor gave her statement and turned the still screaming child over to the authorities. Once finished, she vanished into the gloom and went back to her recently rented room over the club to crawl into bed... still in her wet clothes. She was exhausted.
It was dark again when she awoke... it usually was in this life. But she didn't feel like clubbing tonight. She rolled over, curled herself into a ball and went back to sleep once more. This time she could hear the mournful music drift through the ceiling of the floor below. When she next awoke... it was daylight.
Slowly she arose and dropped her still damp dress onto the floor and looked for the satin chemise. After pulling it on she ran her fingers through the short platinum hair and splashed cold water on her face. Gazing into the mirror she knew two things. One she had to get out of here... and two, she needed to make a change in her life. Darius was right... she was becoming entirely too self-destructive.
Something occurred to her and she knelt on the floor carefully sorting through some mail she had casually tossed into the overflowing wastebasket. She found what she was looking for finally... a letter asking her to join a medical mission to Chile.
Chile... South America... it had been well over a hundred years since
she had been in that part of the world. Perfect! She drew a bath and soaked
in the hot water letting the heat pull the last of her black mood out of
her. She would go to Chile. She would become a healer once again. And then...
only then... she would try to mend her fences with Darius. The nice thing
about being immortal she thought as she lowered her head beneath the warm
water... you always got a second chance to make it right.
|The Book of Darius
(This page last updated 08/10/2003)