by Henry Wyckoff
A Highlander/Sentinel Crossover
When I woke up, it was dark. All but one of the fires had died out, and I had the strangest feeling that I had awakened in Hell.
With the passage of time, my eyes worked as they should and I saw that the Kurgan was sitting near the fire, roasting meat. It smelled good, whatever it was. It wasn't goat, I knew that much, even in my state of mind.
"Your parents are dead," was all that he said, and I knew it was true.
I didn't cry, and I knew that was an unusual thing. The only thing that I knew I felt was numbness. "I want to kill Armenians," I think I said.
The Kurgan smiled a chilling smile, "That's the sprit! I knew I could see the fire in you. Untrained, and you still have blood on your sword."
"My mother threw boiling oil in his face, and I killed him to stop his screaming." We were both silent for a few moments. "You came back from the dead. I know you were dead. Are you touched by God?"
The Kurgan shook his head, "I don't know. I can tell you this much; when I am through in this world, I will be feared as God, even if they whisper under their breath that I am the Devil." He handed me a piece of meat. "Eat."
"What is it?" I was curious after all this time.
I didn't know whether he was joking or not. "Armenian flesh."
If I'd had the strength, I would have run. "That's monstrous!"
He shook his head. "Killing a score of men and leaving them for the carrion is monstrous. Eat him, and you gain his power."
I ate the flesh, and I can tell you this much. It didn't taste a bit like chicken.
That's how it started. A campfire shared with the Kurgan, with Armenian as the main course. From then on, day and night, he might as well have been my father. We spoke his language, we rode together, and we trained together. Every day without fail, he taught me what he knew about the sword and the taking of life.
The Armenians feared us. In retrospect, I think that the Kurgan was a bloodthirsty killer who lived to kill -- and so was unexceptional in his brutality -- I was much more fearsome than him because I killed for revenge.
We killed soldiers and slaughtered villages by the dozen, and it's an inexplicable thing how by the age of sixteen, I'd survived alive with only minor scrapes and bruises. The weather caused me more damage than the swords of the villagers. Thank God that this was before influenza struck for the first time.
We must have crossed the border more than a hundred times before my life changed. One day, in a Georgian town, the Kurgan left to attend to some business of his own -- a rare moment. I needed coffee, and on my way I saw a friend of my father's, a man that I remembered from my youth. When he saw me, his face turned as white as bone.
"Tutyr! I thought you dead!"
"No. Only my mother, father, and village at the hands of the Armenians."
He must have noticed my sword and the blood that I hadn't bothered to wash off my body over the last week. "You look like you came from a slaughterhouse!"
I smiled, "I am at war against all Armenia."
He shook his head, "Tutyr, I think there is something that you should know . . ." I noticed offhand that he bore a tattoo on his wrist that I'd believed only my father'd had. "Come. Have coffee with me and I will explain a few things."
"What you have to say can be here on the street."
He looked at me oddly, "No. This is a thing that must be told away from the ears of others."
I had an urge to walk away, but something kept me from leaving. I followed him and waited for him to talk. "Your father is the same as I. We were brothers in a far deeper way than blood can ever provide, and it is a tragedy that he was never able to share what was to be your birthright. What do you know about him?"
I shrugged, "My father was once a traveller, and chose to settle down in his home village with my mother. He told stories and repaired coats and muskets."
"He was more than that. He kept not only stories told in the villages, but also of things he saw, and things that our fathers saw. He watched and recorded things that lie outside the realms of mortal man."
"He watched those such as the Kurgan, those few who cannot die and are fated to walk the world until their end comes."
My blood froze. I had thought that only I knew about the Kurgan and his eternal life. I had not known that anyone else could know, or even thought about the possibility of there being others.
"There is more, but that can wait for its own time. But I ask you this. Accept the birthright that your father wished for you. Stop this killing and marauding. Become the scholar he wished you to be."
I shook my head. "Books don't save the lives of Georgians and bring death to the Armenians. Swords do."
My urge was to walk away, and yet I remained, perhaps because he had shocked me so much already. "What do you know of the Kurgan?"
His smile was sad. "Much. He has walked the world for many years, the strongest product that a brutal people could provide."
I smiled, "He would be glad to know that his reputation is intact." I thought about something then. "You say that your kind watches those who do not die, as my father watched. Who could he watch if he remained in my village all of his life?"
"A woman named Olympias. She was the mother of Alexander the Great."
That shocked me. I remembered her as a very regal woman who could chastise me more effectively than my mother ever could, even with a glance. "Do you observe the lives of every immortal?"
"Those we know have risen from the dead."
I stood and shouted at him. "The next day after the massacre, we found a troop of soldiers who could have been warned. They could have saved my village. They could have saved my family! What good is your watching when they cannot save lives?"
I did leave then, convinced that if I ever saw that man again, I would kill him.
Jim was stunned. Even though he half-doubted everything the man had to say, he had to admit that he didn't want the man to stop his story. However, the police had arrived, and Jim had to come to a decision.
"I'm not placing you under arrest, yet," said Jim to Tutyr, "but you are staying with me for the moment. We're taking a ride."
Tutyr shrugged. "As you wish."
* * *
Latro was unprepared for his unexpected visitor, and nearly fell from his very narrow perch. Looking to his right, he knew that he shouldn't have been surprised. "Odin."
Though Latro was deathless, he had a fear of this great height and the insecurity of his ledge. Odin seemed to share those fears as little as the ravens on his shoulders had. "I see you have an interest in their conversation."
Latro would have shrugged if he hadn't been using both hands to stay in place. "I am a firm believer in understanding. Methos is not an Angel, I am convinced, but I don't know what he is. I also find that I am curious about this man inside, Blair Sandburg, and the partner I have not met yet. This 'Amanda' affair leaves me very curious."
"How is it that men can walk the Earth and not die? I was cursed, but if Methos is typical, these people do not know how they came to be. If you listened, you would also be curious."
Odin shook his head, "Curiosity is for bookworms. We're men of action; we kill."
"I kill only the Angels, and then only until God speaks to me. I am not a butcher."
"Come now . . . you were a Centurion! You lived to kill!"
"I was a professional soldier of Rome. I was not a barbarian. Do not insult me."
* * * *