Niebos, Greece 2003
But now there were no second chances.
Eleanor stretched in the wide bed and faced the early morning sunshine streaming through the window. Her dreams had taken her nowhere. Only further into her grief. She could go no further. She punched the pillows and lay in the bed, not really ready for the day's activities.
But there would be no respite. Phillip knocked at her door. "Up and at 'em, Little Sister. We have a mountain to climb!" Eleanor groaned... she really did not need this.
"I'm up!" she called trying to sound pleasant if not eager. She threw off the sheet and rummaged in her bag for the denim capris and pale green shirt she had brought. They hung on her like baggy clothes. She grabbed her straw hat and descended the stairs to find both Phillip and Methos already dressed and waiting.
Phillip looked much as he had the day before, and he must have lent their older friend some appropriate clothes. Eleanor snorted suddenly, amused at the sight of the tall slender immortal now wearing some of Phillip's clothes. Phillip was just so much shorter and broader.
At the snort Methos shot her a look that said it all. "Don't start with me!" Eleanor tossed her head impishly and put on her hat. She loved getting him like that! She wriggled her bare toes on the marble floor, noticing that the others had followed suit. No Shoes!
Phillip tossed her a croissant. "We need to go if we are to make low tide." He turned and she could see he had already packed a lunch into his backpack. Methos shrugged and followed Phillip out the door. Phillip led them down the path that crossed over to the ancient Pilgrim's Path that had been worn into the mountain by thousands of worshippers over two thousand years ago.
It was over-grown now... but still clearly visible. "Every few months some archeology group comes to Niebos to study the ruins. They always want to climb the path as it was done... at least they do the first time they go to the cove and of course..." he grinned, "They have to climb it to study the ruins."
Eleanor's bare feet were nicked by the pebbles and sharp volcanic glass that littered the path. "Drat!" she called out as one shard pierced her foot. She hopped on the other to pull it out. "You and your bright ideas!"
"All part of the game!" he said teasingly and led the way. "The pilgrims always climbed barefoot..."
"Are we going to have a running commentary the entire way...?" Methos growled.
Phillip chuckled. "Oh all right... be lost in your own thoughts then. I was just trying to be sociable." He said nothing further for a long time.
The three immortals continued their slow climb up the mountain of Niebos, hoping to get the worst of it over before the heat of the day made the pilgrimage too much of a task even for their immortal constitutions.
"It was never supposed to be easy," Phillip finally said in labored breathing as they trudged up the mountain path. The silence of the others had become too much for him as it usually did. "Pilgrims and penitents were supposed to have time to carefully reflect just what they needed to know before they were allowed to approach the oracle and ask their question."
"We get the idea," Eleanor countered. "But now there is no oracle to ask... so why the torture?"
"You'll see," he smiled mysteriously once more and continued the climb. Despite his own recent loss, Phillip had thrown himself into this madness. They were to have fun... and in the process they would mourn for those they had lost. If she had thought to ease his loss this visit... it would seem Phillip had other plans. But she wasn't quite certain what it was he hoped to gain by this activity.
Eleanor glanced at Methos. He was as he had been the night before... icy cold. It was as if he were going through the motions of this adventure without purpose or feeling. "Do you even still feel anything after all these years?" she wondered. It had been a little over one hundred and twenty years since he had finally told her of his own dark past. It had taken that long for her to get him to trust her with his secrets and the tale of his journey. That had been not long after she had helped him to avoid Kronos. After that, he had finally confided in her. He couldn't tell Phillip... she must not tell Phillip... Phillip had once promised Cassandra whom he often saw that if he ever found any of the fabled 'Horsemen' he would tell her... and Methos did not want Phillip in the middle of this situation.
So for over a century, Eleanor had kept his secret... but she had never told him hers. That she still kept, although he probably had an idea about it after Angola. It wasn't her fury and self-destructive rage that had made him leave that day... that he had always helped her deal with... but she had seen something reflected in his eyes, as if she had betrayed something... let something out... something that had never occurred to him before.
Eleanor shoved the memories away. She did not want to revisit them. Being able to move beyond them for the first time since they had happened made her reluctant to do so, as if to remember them would trap her there once more. She thought instead about Methos and his past.
Once she had known of it... she had more clearly understood so many things she had seen in him over the centuries. She understood his dark moods and his brooding... and she understood just why he always showed up for these wakes. He was so very lonely. As were they all. But his loneliness and guilt stretched back over five thousand years. He had so much more to atone for... he had so many more voices within him. So many more to keep under control. His balancing act was far more complex than hers could ever be.
Perhaps the wakes were one of the ways he compensated for his aloneness. The other was his sarcasm. He had seen it all. Nothing was new. But he still wanted to survive. In spite of everything, he wanted to survive. Eleanor wondered which immortal he had recently killed? The subject hadn't come up last night... no that would likely be part of tonight's discussion. She didn't think it was Silas' voice that bothered him. Phillip had told her that the "Horsemen" were no more. They were all dead now, except for Methos himself. What had most surprised her was that Duncan MacLeod had been involved! And that somehow it was he who had killed Caspian and Kronos!
"Did you plan that out too?" she wondered. "Was it a way to keep their ancient evil at bay? Was it a way to load their ghosts on to MacLeod so that he would have to deal with them?" But she kept her questions to herself.
She paused as the path snaked back the other direction and gazed out onto the vista. The dull green trees... the sharp black volcanic glass... the white sand... the blue sky... the turquoise sea... it was so very lovely here. She could see why the pilgrims climbed the mountain. The view was a calming one on a day like this.
Eleanor thought about what Phillip had told them last night. "It is
not the destination but the journey that is important... " She disagreed...
sometimes it was not the journey but the destination. Sometimes... everything
was in the destination. She turned and continued the climb up Mt. Niebos
but her memories of Darius continued their backward journey over time.
Eleanor waited impatiently as the huge cargo ship entered the harbor at Le Havre. She was already impatient. She had to get back to Paris. She had to get home now! She had no faster way to reach him. She had to let him know... she was still alive. She was not trapped in the twisted wreckage of the "Titanic" and lost in the depths of the ocean. He had told her once of drowning on a galley while chained to an oar and how long... how many deaths it had taken to find his way out of that watery grave. He would think that she too was trapped at the bottom of the ocean. She had to get to Darius now! Couldn't this ship dock any faster!
From what she had gathered from talk on the cargo ship, authorities had posted the names of the passengers, the names of the recovered, and the names of those who had survived. She knew the name she had been using would be on the passenger list. But she also knew it would not appear on either of the others. When the cargo crew had picked her body out of the water a few days ago... she had not mentioned the "Titanic". Already several weeks had passed and no one could have survived those icy waters for more than a few minutes. Certainly not for several weeks! She had danced around their questions... feigning amnesia.
The ship had been headed to Le Havre, which suited her just fine. She would get back to France. She would reassure Darius that she was alive. He would forgive her. He had to forgive her. What was taking so damned long!
She had no papers... no money... and she would need to conveniently vanish in a few moments, bewildering the crew and the authorities that they would call. Perhaps it would be put down to their having fished a mermaid from the water. Stranger things had happened! Sailors always had tales of the sea. She planned to just vanish over the edge as soon as the ship docked and she could safely swim the harbor to the shore. She patted her foot in anticipation and absently ran her hand through her long hair. She supposed it would be best to leave behind the heavy seaman's coat they had given her. Perhaps it would add to the mystery. She would miss it though... it was bound to be cold when she got out of the water. But she had no time! She had to get to Paris. She'd pick up whatever she needed on the way.
The ship finally docked and Eleanor vanished over the rail.
Two hours later, still damp, but now covered by a long coat she had managed to pilfer from a tavern cloakroom; she had started on foot toward Paris. With any luck, she would make it by tomorrow... sooner if she could manage to get a ride. But in the darkness of the French countryside... there were no rides. The carters had ceased their travel for the night. The coaches no longer ran at night. The new autos were not really equipped yet for night travel. She was on her own and desperate to get to Paris.
She soon found herself almost running. She would run until even her great strength failed. She would slow to a walk, recover and then she would run once more. At dawn she was still five miles from Paris. But she would make it today.
She had only her knife. Her short sword was lost to her at the bottom of the ocean. Perhaps that was for the best at least for now. She was certain if any immortal got in her way... well they would regret it if necessary. She would let no one and nothing stop her. It had been too long already.
They had argued when she left. "Come with me! The United States is a big country. It has lots of open spaces. We can get lost there for a thousand years."
"My place is here... you know this!"
"I've bought two tickets. I'll meet you at the harbor. Come with me!" But he had not come.
Aja whispered in her mind, "You must move on Eleanor! Your path lies elsewhere, now!"
Methos had finally given even her voice a name. "She has always been with you, even when you were a child.You listened to her then..." he had said the last time she had seen him, "listen to her now and she will guide you." But she no longer trusted Methos. There was an old darkness in him that dwarfed even her own.
Aja wanted her to leave Paris behind but Eleanor did not want to leave. It was her choice after all. Her choice! If she did leave, Darius would leave with her this time... he would be so thankful she was alive that he would leave with her. Like O ro' dred and Nin they would have a life. They would have a thousand years. They would die together in a single stroke and be forever united.
She picked up her pace once more, ignoring the brief struggle of Kae Dhun. She felt no rage, only his desire for the freedom to control her thoughts. But Methos had taught her how to hold him in check. And Kritis would help! She centered her thoughts on the nothingness at the center of her soul and continued to move forward but her mind was focused on that calm center of her being which contained... nothing!
It was late afternoon when Eleanor got to the church. She ran in only to realize he was not here! For a moment she was confused! Where could he be? He was always here! At least by day! Then she had the barest sense of him... across the street... in the hidden grove! She retrieved her copy of the key from its hiding place in the church and ran through the narrow alley and up to the locked gate. He was there--she could feel him. She unlocked the gate and ran in ... he was sitting on the stones about the small bubbling spring they had long ago hidden from the encroaching city of Paris. He looked up at her with obvious relief.
She ran to him and he held her. She was home. She would never leave again. No matter what rules he set to their relationship... she was home and she would never leave again. This time when she kissed him... he did not pull away.
She knew she would never leave him again. But if she did, he would come with her. He had to come with her! Only Darius could calm the storm now... only he had the means to always say what she needed to hear... only him. He was the only one she trusted now!
But it might as well have been a dream. By morning they were fighting again. Would he never understand? Would he never leave this place? Would he never listen to her? Would he never trust her?
"War is coming... I am needed here!"
"There will always be wars!" she insisted! "And if not wars... there will always be something!"
And so she had left again, almost immediately. This time for good she
had told him! She would never bother him again. If he wanted to see her...
he would have to leave holy ground and find her! And so she left... as
suddenly as she had come.
A Simple Gift
Calmly Eleanor watched the pigeons coo and peck their way about the small pile of tossed bread crumbs. She sighed. Sometimes it was in the simple things that she found the most peace. She looked around at the bright and sunny day and breathed deeply of the crisp Autumn air. She was glad to be back in Paris again! She was attired in the style of the day, although she was not fond of the hooped skirt and the corset. They were far too restricting in movement. Well... perhaps she wouldn't have to worry about that.
Sitting here in the Luxembourg Gardens, among the trees, she felt content. Her hands fell on the small wrapped package she had for Darius. Something special! Something she knew he would like!
Although she was not a great writer of letters, they had managed to stay in touch over the years. And she knew Phillip had been to see him several times.
She refused to go to the church... nor to the spring... not after last time. Eleanor shook her head and concentrated as Edward had told her. "Concentrate and let it go. Be the stone against which the storm crashes. Be eternal. Be unmoving."
But stones eventually wear out she had said. He had smiled one of his mysterious smiles. "Not for a long, long time."
So she had become stone, and the rage of Kae Dhun spent itself against her will. She shook her head and looked up. She smiled. Darius was coming.
The priest, in his guise as a French peasant walked up and sat beside her, the peaked cap pulled low over his face. Eleanor laughed.
"I really should get you some new clothes. Those are so out of date they call attention to you."
"I am happy to see you too, Eleanor." He arched one eyebrow, but his amusement was apparent. "Welcome home."
"Home? Is this home?" She shook her head slightly, "Sometimes I wonder."
"Phillip wrote me that you and Edward traveled around the world this time."
Eleanor laughed, her laughter sounded like tinkling bells, "It was almost like old times... but for the raging inside me. I never want to go through that again."
"You took too much in... He was too much for you."
"He was my first, I guess I did not handle it well."
"Kae Dhun had one of the ancients within him. I fear that may have been the source of all that rage... all that power... I believe it drove him mad. You should have trusted me... I could have handled him."
"Trust..." Eleanor smiled. "Who knows old one... someday I just might." She handed him the package.
As he unwrapped the book and realized what it was and who it was by, she grinned. "Open it up... I had him sign it for you. And I marked a passage... you've been telling tales again."
"Perhaps... but never the whole truth." Darius fingered the binding and flipped through the pages of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It was a runaway hit in Paris these days. He had not yet had the opportunity to get a copy. Then he saw what was written in her strange handwriting inside the front cover. He glanced up at her... she saw something in his eyes... a moment of recognition... something he seemed to know. But he only smiled.
She shrugged, "Something to remember me by."
Her ungloved hand rested on the bench beside her. He took it in his hand and clasped it gently. They sat for a long time just looking about... content in only that simple touch. Finally she released his hand and rose "I have to go now. My young poet is waiting."
Darius nodded. She turned then to walk out of the gardens, out of his life, at peace with herself.
Behind her she heard him say, "I will miss you Eleanor. I always do."
She hesitated her step then replied "Ahh... But I miss you more," and
continued to walk away.
|The Book of Darius
(This page last updated 08/10/2003)