So a few weeks ago, Medieval POC, the website I feel is the actual purpose of the Internet existing, posted this picture:
and requested immortal vampire fic. I was all like “VAMPIRE WUT NO HIGHLANDER OBVS!” and she said that would do too.
And then I, er, had an idea. And then…well, then this happened:
Unforgiven: A Highlander Fic
Etruria (today, Tuscany): ca 500 BC
The last thing he remembered was the lion killing him.
He didn’t expect to awaken in a field; he did not expect to awaken with a surge of pain that felt like his blood had been set on fire. That faded quickly, as if was no more than a warning of things to come, and he was left again with the strangeness of awakening at all, much less beneath the blazing sun and surrounded by wildflowers. His faith said the afterlife would put him in a home much like the one he’d left, domed and comfortable, and that he would be reunited with the family who had gone before.
It said nothing of a sharp-nosed man crouching over him, expression patient, as if he had been waiting for some time and was prepared to wait longer yet. “Ah,” he said. “There you are. What’s your name?”
The answer to that seemed a long time in coming; surely the dead knew who roamed their own realm, and the lion’s blows had rattled his own brains. “Alcaeus.” he finally replied. “Who are you?”
“Alcaeus. What on earth were you thinking, going after the lion?”
“A child was going to die.” That, he remembered more clearly than his own name. The boy had stood up and said it all very simply: today he would be fed to the lion, the Nemean Lion, the beast of the north. Alcaeus might go in his stead and slay the monster; if he failed, then in a month’s time this child of no more than ten years would be sacrificed to appease the gods and draw the beast away. There were three paths before him that day, and two led to the child’s death.
The third, of course, led to his own glory, and the survival of a child, besides. It was reason enough to have acted.
Still, it earned a derisive snort from the slender man. “Children die all the time. And if you didn’t notice, you died instead, accomplishing nothing.”
Alcaeus’ eyes closed in dismay. He had known, of course; he remembered the blows that killed him, but this was so unlike the afterlife he had been prepared for…. “You are not Leinth,” he said after a time, and opened his eyes again. “Laran?”
A softness came over the man’s face, an inward change that could not disguise the masculine lines of his nose and jaw but which somehow awakened all that was female within him. “Could I not be Leinth? Deity of death, god and goddess?” His female manner faded as quickly as it had come; Alcaeus could only stare in wordless astonishment at his shifting aspects as he spoke again. “But Laran…Laran is closer. God of war,” he said, and a depth of bitter irony shivered through his voice. It returned to its usual tenor with his next words, the change so swift it might have been imagined. “You can call me Laran. But as it happens, you’re not dead.”
“Thank the gods.” It was not that he minded dying, but waking in a field of flowers under sunshine and the sarcastic voice of a thin-faced man was not what he hoped for from the afterlife. “…why am I not dead?”
“Because you’re immortal. Get up and get out of here before anybody else realises it.” Laran stood and offered his hand, pulling Alcaeus to his feet. “You already know how to fight, so I’m not going to waste my time on you. The rules are simple: you can’t die unless your head leaves your shoulders. There are others like you who will try to kill you for your power. You’ll feel them coming. Kill them or talk your way out of it and you might just live forever. Good luck.” He strode away, leaving Alcaeus alone in a field of golden flowers.
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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)