Marisa sat by herself underneath a sun-shade at the cafe. There was nobody at all on the patio, and so she allowed herself to settle into her own thoughts, sipping on an americano. Over a day of nonstop torment could really wear someone out...
...Wheldrake sighed as he leaned against the railing. What he didn't know was that Marisa sat in the rope network only fifteen feet above him. She was in her own world, so did not take special care to let her presence be known to those who couldn't sense her.
Methos smiled as he patted the poet on the back. "Why so glum, my jovial friend?"
He sighed again, quite melodramatically, "It's the lass, Marisa van Ness. She is as sad as a winter snowfall, and her heart is surrounded by a block of ice. She will let nobody near her."
He nodded. He'd known the type. Hell, he'd created the type more than once. "She needs to be alone."
Wheldrake shook his head emphatically, "No! She thinks she wants to be alone, but she doesn't need to be alone." His eyes, on meeting Methos', were uncharacteristically hard. "You think I am a sheltered court poet, but I too am a man of the world, and I have seen all too often what becomes of one with a closed heart." His voice dropped to a whisper. "They become comfortable being alone, and never learn to be with people again. Though they are in a room of people, they are alone."
Methos had no argument with him, but he wanted to see what was really on the man's own heart. "Where did you gain such wisdom of the soul?"
He whistled through his teeth. "Poland. I was there when the Muscovites took it."
"I'm sorry." It was indeed a horrific invasion. Just like any other bloodbath, no words could define it.
"I had a love there. The daughter of a Kalmar merchant. She saw her family butchered -- " he choked a little, "-- and was raped herself. I was not the hero of the songs and ballads. I was not the brave poet recording the atrocities so that future generations could hear the bloodthirstiness of the Muscovites. No. I was frozen in fear, unable to act because I didn't want to die." He pounded his had on a beam, spilling blood from his hand. "I carried a sword. I could have acted!"
"You would have died," whispered Methos. He knew well enough by experience. "By not acting, you lived. Your love was alive as well."
"Her soul died, however, and maybe mine did. I endeavored to live on, but she could never forget. I don't blame her. I didn't save her."
Methos didn't have the patience for those who wrung out their own hearts in front of an audience. "You're still alive. That's all I can say."
Wheldrake kept to himself, staring out at sea.
Above, Marisa looked at the poet in a new light, and listened to him as he spoke to himself.
* * *
Amanda finally got through to Methos. "Adam? It's me."
The phone, naturally enough, was in the office. "Are you all right?"
"For the moment. I've gotten away from this lunatic called --"
"--Marisa van Ness."
"What do you know about her?" she demanded.
"A hell of a lot. What did you do to piss her off, other than screw the Duke of Alba?"
She sighed, "Nobody's ever going to forget that..."
"Nothing is forgotten. I met her after she escaped from Flanders, and I can remember a lot of details her teacher had to tell me. Olympias and I were quite good friends, in fact."
"Olympias?" yelped Amanda. "What's she have to do with this?"
It shocked him, just as much as it wasn't surprising. "I thought that as her teacher, she might have insight into where you might be, but all I got was something about her being a loose cannon."
"She's a lot more than that: she's dead meat when I find her."
"Were can we find her?"
"Sorry, but it's my fight."
The phone hung up then, and Pierson shrugged. "I guess it's out of our hands?"
Harlowe stormed out of the room. "Over my dead body!"
Banks stopped him in time, "Remember the Rules! It's a dead challenge now. If you want Amanda, you have to wait until she kills Marisa... if she kills her."
Harlowe threw off Banks' hand, "Don't touch me."
Banks got in his face, "Remember who I am, buddy! I'm going to do a lot worse than touch you if you don't wise up!"
"Of course. I'm sorry, Captain. You know where to find me."
Banks was unconvinced.
* * *
Ellison made his decision. He heard the exchange between Harlowe and the Captain, as well as the phone conversation (though it was hard to hear Amanda's voice on the other end, with all the other background noise). When they were all agreed on the fact that they had to let Marisa and Amanda duke it out to the death, that's where he drew the line. He'd give them a chance to explain themselves.
"Hey, Jim!" Banks leaned back in his chair.
"Hi Captain," he nodded. "One question for you."
"Does Jesus love you more than you can know?"
Both the Captain and Pierson stared at him with dropped jaws. "Huh?"
Ellison smiled grimly, "You know how it goes... '...and here's to you, Captain ROBINSON!'"
Banks paled (pretty impressive trick there) as he realized what Jim was implying. "How long did you know?"
"Not long. I know about you, and Pierson, and Harlowe. Amanda and Marisa are apparently in on this too." He slammed a hand on the table, "Just what the hell is going on? Why does Amanda have to sink or swim on this? Or Marisa for that matter?"
Banks and Pierson eyed one another. Time for damage control.
"What do you know about us...?"
* * * *
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