“So has Adam any idea who’s after him?” Xander asked as he parried Giles’ blow.
“No. He can’t even be sure if it’s an Immortal or not.” Giles replied. He stepped back and lowered his sword, sweat dripping from him. “Good, that’s very good indeed. That’s enough for today. I suggest you do some visual exercises and then hit the showers. I’m going to shower; Adam is meeting me here in ten minutes.”
“Anything I can do to help?”
“Thanks Xander, but no. Until we know exactly what’s going on, I don’t wish to place you in any more danger than necessary.”
“Er, hello? Earth to Giles? Grew up on a Hellmouth, remember? Lived my entire adolescent life in one kind of demony danger or another.”
“Yes but that was different. Demons were unlikely to behead you and vampires can’t turn us, so I knew you were quite safe. If we are up against Hunters then you would have no warning and no protection, not even Holy Ground. It didn’t save Darius.” Giles said, sorrow in his voice.
“I’m sorry Giles. Was he a good friend of yours?”
“Yes he was. Darius was one of the best of us.”
As the Quickening of his opponent entered his body, Rwpyrt felt the approach of another Immortal. The Quickening ended and Rwpyrt collapsed to the floor exhausted. He addressed the newcomer,
“J'espère que vous êtes assez honorable pour me permettre de récupérer avant que vous me combattiez.” he said.
“Je n'ai aucune intention de vous combattre.” the stranger replied. Rwpyrt looked up and saw that the stranger was a priest.
“Pardonnez-moi mon père, j'a pensé que vous étiez quelqu'un d'autre.”
“From your clothes I guess that you are English yes?”
“Not exactly father, but English is as good as French to me.”
“Oh, Würden Sie Deutsches bevorzugen? O forse italiano?*” the priest said with a smile, “I speak most languages.” He added. Realisation dawned on Rwpyrt and he examined the priest anew.
“Again, forgive me father. You caught me at an inconvenient moment.”
“Indeed. Quickenings can be most draining. My church is not far, would you come with me? You can recover a little more, and we can compare other languages if you wish.” The priest said with a chuckle. Rwpyrt returned the smile and nodded. The priest offered his hand and helped Rwpyrt to his feet.
“My name is Rwpyrt ap Aerwynn.”
“Ah, ach Cymraeg**. Rwpyrt ap Aerwynn, I am Brother Darius.”
Darius led Rwpyrt back to a small church and back to his vestry. There he sat Rwpyrt down and made tea for them both.
“It has been quite a while since I had Immortal company, I keep to the church and grounds most of the time, but I saw the Quickening and thought you might need assistance.”
“That was kind of you. There are many of our kind who might have taken advantage of an unarmed Immortal.”
“I suspect there are equally as many willing to take advantage of one weakened by a Quickening, wouldn’t you?” Darius replied. Rwpyrt smiled and nodded. Darius passed him a cup. “I make it myself, it is nettle and camomile.” Rwpyrt took a sip.
“Most refreshing, thank you.” They sat in silence for a while, drinking the tea, each surreptitiously studying the other. “How long have you been a priest?” Rwpyrt asked eventually.
“Oh, ,many centuries now. I originally came to Paris as a raider, believe it or not. My name was once as feared as that of the Horsemen.” Darius replied. Giles looked at him in surprise, cautious at the mention of the Horsemen. “Have you heard of a Dark Quickening?” Darius asked.
“Yes, of course. Legend says that it occurred to Kronos, that he was once a champion.” Giles had heard the stories during his time in the camp. He had never had the courage to ask Methos about it and ever since the thought of absorbing that much evil had haunted him.
“So legend says. Legend also says that I was once as evil as Kronos. I took the Quickening of an incredibly good man and it made me lay down my sword. So legend says anyway.” Darius said with a smile.
“But the truth is?” Rwpyrt asked.
“To be honest,” Darius replied with a chuckle, “I’m not sure. I did indeed arrive at the gates of Paris seeking to ransack the place. I was challenged by a champion and I beat him. After that day I did put down my sword and choose peace over war. But whether that was due to his Quickening or to my conscience? Who can say for certain?” Darius said and shrugged his shoulders.
“And you have not fought since?”
“Not once. I have spoken peaceably with many Immortals over the years. Some have come round to my way of thinking, some have not. Most at least listen to me and choose their battles more carefully afterwards. Now, do you play chess at all?”
“I stayed with Darius for fifty-six years, learning from him. He taught me that Immortals are about more than the Game and fighting. He taught me to avoid challenges whenever possible. Not from cowardice, but because we shouldn’t need to fight each other. A lot of the man you know as Giles is thanks to Darius.” Giles finished.
“Know and love G-man, know and love.” Xander said with a grin.
“I do wish you wouldn’t call me that. Now stop stalling and go and practise.” Giles said and headed for the shower.
The death of Darius had hurt him harder than any other Immortal. Not because he was murdered, or because the atrocity had occurred on Holy Ground. No, it was because there had been no Immortal present to receive the Quickening. All that knowledge, all that wisdom, all that love had been lost forever. Giles tried hard to honour his friend’s memory and practise what Darius had preached, but he hated the Hunters and all they stood for.
As an Immortal he wanted to end their interference in the Game that had resulted in the murder of too many good men. As a Watcher he wanted to end their interference that had besmirched everything the Watchers stood for and resulted in the murder of too many good men. He thought the madness had ended with the death of Horton. If it was Hunters following Methos, then he would make damn sure that this time it was really over.
Giles headed to his office. As he reached the outer door, he felt another Immortal. He was expecting Methos, but he still opened the door cautiously. The inner door was open and he could see Methos seated behind the desk inside. Giles shook his head and motioned for the elder Immortal to move from his seat.
“That’s my chair.”
“Is it?” Methos said, feigning surprise, “I had no idea.” He slouched further into the seat. Giles stood and glowered at him for a moment and then gave up with a sigh and sat on one of the armchairs to the side of the office. Methos swivelled in the chair to look at Giles. “So, Rupert,” He said expectantly.
“So, Methos?” Giles enquired. Methos simply raised an eyebrow in response. Giles decided to be purposely obtuse and sat in silence looking at his teacher quizzically. Methos smiled. He could play this game better than anyone under ordinary circumstances. But today he wasn’t in the mood for games, he just wanted answers.
“Do you know who’s following me?” he asked with a resigned sigh.
“No not yet. I’ve had researchers on it all day and I even rang Joe…”
“What did you do that for?” Methos whined.
“Don’t worry, I didn’t tell him why I wanted to know. I asked him who from his branch is in London at the moment. He listed the regular ones I know about, but that was it. No extra Watchers and no Head-hunters are in the city. At least none of the Watched ones.”
“That doesn’t make me feel any better Rupert. Joe wasn’t even able to keep track of his own brother-in-law.” Methos sniped.
“Don’t go there, you know as well as I how hard Joe took the Horton mess. I admit it doesn’t rule out a rogue hunter, of either kind, which is why I’ve had one of my men follow you.”
“It stands to reason that if somebody is following you then they should be spotted by someone else following you,” Giles was interrupted by the telephone, which he stood and answered, “Yes….yes Perkins…really?...I see, well that’s very interesting news. Thank you for your diligence Perkins, you can return to your regular duties.” Giles replaced the receiver and stood looking pensive.
“Hmm? Oh that was Perkins, the man I put to follow you,” Giles sat back down and began to wipe his glasses.
“So? Did he see who’s after me?”
“Not who,” Giles replied, “what.”TBCTranslations: “I hope you are honourable enough to allow me to recover before you fight me.”
“I have no intention of fighting you.”
“Forgive me father, I thought you were someone else.”
*“Oh, would you prefer German? Or perhaps Italian?”
**Translation from Welsh: “Ah, you are Welsh….”
A/N: For anyone unfamiliar with the Celtic/old Welsh way of presenting names Rwpyrt ap Aerwynn means Rwpyrt born of Aerwynn.