Fin de Siecle
Warning, there is a non-graphic scene involving Methos/Giles/Byron in this chapter that may offend some.
Methos strolled down the road and entered a small side street. About twenty paces back from him, his pursuer quickened his pace so as not to lose sight of him. The pursuer was a stocky man, with slightly longer than average arms. When you looked at his face, there was something not quite right about it, and if you managed to keep looking for more than ten seconds, the glamour dissipated and it was possible to see that he had no nose, and that his skin was really purple.
The demon followed Methos into the side street, but his quarry had vanished. Confused, the demon jogged a little way down the road. As he passed each doorway he glanced at it, hoping for some glimpse of his quarry. But they were all empty. Halfway down he stopped, disappointed. “Now!” came a voice, and Giles, Xander, Methos and two trainee Slayers leaped out from behind a skip and wrestled the demon to the ground.
“Well that was disappointingly easy.” Methos sniped, “I had hoped that it would at least be a fierce demon that was after me.”
“Well let’s just hope that whatever his reasons were, he’s acting alone.” Giles replied. He signalled to a van a little farther down the street, which immediately reversed to their location and the rear doors were swung open. They bundled the demon inside and climbed in after, and the van sped off back to Headquarters.
“It’s as I suspected, his tattoo proves he’s a member of the clan of Sect Quaquitator demons.” Giles said, snapping shut a heavy leather bound tome.
“Sounds like something unholy involving a duck and root vegetables.” Xander quipped. Giles sighed before continuing.
“Quaquitator Xander. It’s a shortening of the Order’s original name derived from the Latin, Secuutus Quattuor Equitatus”
“The Followers of the Four Horsemen.” Methos said with a worried look.
“Yes, this demon belongs to a religious sect that worships the Horsemen and prepare for the day they shall return to bring the Apocalypse.”
“But last time we ran into these wackos, they seemed harmless enough.” Methos said.
*-*1899, The Moulin Rouge, Paris
“Ah, Paris!” Methos exclaimed, his arms outstretched. Rupert laughed as Byron twirled Methos around.
“Where else my good Doctor? Where better to see out the old century and welcome in the new. The Twentieth Century! It will be a time of great hope, of scientific wonder. A second Age of Reason!” Lord Byron proclaimed expansively.
“I had no idea you were gifted with second sight my Lord!” Rupert said with a chuckle.
“Do you mock me sir?” Byron said.
“I? Mock Lord Byron? Never sir.” Rupert replied with mock gravitas. “Indeed, let me prove it by buying another round of drinks. Mademoiselle! Trois Absinthe!” He shouted at the nearest girl and the three sat down at a table. Byron eyed up the rest of the room, his gaze coming to rest on a table across the room, and scowled.
“Ugh, it’s that horrid dwarf Lautrec. What a boor.”
“Jealous that you’re no longer the cripple du jour?” Methos said with a malicious smile.
“Doctor, you wound me! I’m leaving. I will not stay here to be insulted.” Byron said, standing as quickly as he was able. Methos and Rupert watched him go before both sighed.
“I suppose we ought to follow him.” Methos suggested, rising.
“Yes, I suppose so.” Rupert agreed and, dropping money on the table to cover the bill, he rose and followed Methos outside.
“George, wait!” Methos called out. A little way ahead Byron slowed his pace, but he did not stop. Rupert and Methos quickened their pace and soon closed the distance. “I am sorry my friend, I took the jest too far.” Methos said in his most placatory tone.
“I ought to challenge you.” Byron said, sounding like a sulky child.
“Perhaps, but why rob the world of such genius?” Methos said smiling. Byron returned the smile. “So where to next my Lord?”
“Oh, I’m tired of bars tonight, let’s retire to my flat. I have an excellent bottle of Absinthe and some opiate that I am assured is of the purest quality. Let us chase the dragon, and whatever other serpent that may arise.” Byron said, his lascivious smile making his intentions clear.
The next day, Rupert was woken by sunlight filtering in through the shuttered windows. He groaned and raised his hand to cover his eyes. Then he disentangled his legs from a sleeping Methos and gently pushed the naked Byron from atop his torso. Once disencumbered, he trotted across to the small bathroom and splashed water on his face. He heard a noise behind him and span round, to find a goat happily munching on a towel. Rupert had a horrible mental image and hoped to the gods it was an Absinthe induced hallucination and not a memory.
“Afternoon,” Methos said, coming up behind Rupert and wrapping his arms around his torso. Rupert became suddenly aware of how naked they were.
“I do hope that isn’t your sword old man,” Rupert said, a wicked smile on his lips. Methos laughed and kissed Rupert’s shoulder before sauntering back into the bedroom.
“Come and get dressed,” Methos called out, “I’m famished. We can get an early dinner before we go to the theatre.”
“Oh but look, it’s only really just past lunchtime. Do we really have to go out so soon?” Byron sounded like a whiny little toddler from where Rupert was standing. In most it would be irritating, but somehow Byron made it sound charming. Rupert strode back into the bedroom.
“So what do you suggest we do your lordship?” Rupert said with a grin.
“He needs bed rest. Doctor’s orders.” Methos said with a laugh. From the bathroom the goat bleated.
Several hours later, the three Immortals were headed back to the Moulin Rouge for dinner and a show to see in the new year. As they passed a shady looking old storehouse however, they heard sounds of chanting. Curiosity got the better of Rupert and he headed towards the open door.
“What are you doing?” Methos called, “Come on! We’ll miss the opening act. I hear there’s a snake in it.”
“Ssh. I recognise what they’re saying, it’s a demon dialect. I just can’t quite make out the words…”Rupert muttered.
“Oh for heaven’s sake Rupert! Now is not the time for dark matters of the occult. It is a time for wine and sex and drugs!” Byron said laughing. Rupert turned to answer, but he was grabbed from behind by strong arms that reached out from the open doorway. Byron and Methos rushed forward to help, but more came out and they were surrounded. “You have us at a disadvantage sirs.” Byron said with a shrug. The only reply he received was a blow to the head, rendering him unconscious, and he was swiftly joined in unconsciousness by Methos and Rupert.
They awoke to find themselves lying on an altar, but surprisingly they were not bound. With a groan, Rupert sat up and looked around. They were in a room lit by thousands of blood red candles.
“Bit clichéd isn’t it?” came Methos’ voice beside him. “I mean, for a satanic ritual.”
“We do not worship Satan,” the answer came from the shadows, a harsh, raspy voice, “He does not exist. The idea sprang from the writings of Dante and Milton. We worship something far older than Christianity.” The owner of the voice stepped into the light, and the three Immortals could see that he was a demon. His skin was purple and he had no nose, although he looked otherwise human.
“Then what foul creature do you worship demon?” Byron asked.
“We worship an idea. We worship the apocalypse. We worship chaos. We worship the Horsemen.” The demon replied. The three Immortals laughed, though Rupert and Methos spared each other a knowing glance.
“The Horsemen? As in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?” Byron said with a snort, little guessing that one of them sat beside him.
“The same. And tonight, as the new century dawns, we seek four willing sacrifices to herald their arrival.”
“Four? But there are only three of us.” Giles said.
“And who said we’re willing?” Methos added.
“One of our clan is human, but the rest are demon and the ritual requires human sacrifice. If you are not willing then you are free to leave. But do you not think it a glorious calling, to be host to the Horsemen?” The demon asked. Methos laughed in response.
“Careful.” Rupert warned.
“Actually, this could be fun. I mean, we know for certain it can’t possibly work.” Methos said with a chuckle.
“I suppose not. But what about the other poor chap? The one who won’t wake up?”
“That’s his lookout. The silly bugger volunteered didn’t he?” Methos replied. “Er, how exactly would you kill us?” he asked the chief demon.
“A knife to the heart. It will be quick and painless.” The demon replied, a proud smile on his face.
“I say it’s a laugh. What better way to see in the new millennium right? Byron, are you with me?” Methos queried.
“Sounds like fun.” Byron replied. Rupert sighed.
“Alright, I’m in.” Rupert said.
“So what happened?” Xander asked.
“We died. Duh!” Methos said.
“But what about the fourth?”
“No idea. He wasn’t there when we woke up, and neither were his mates. He probably came to his senses and buggered off.”
“But why should this cult be after Adam?” Xander asked. Giles and Methos looked at one another, uncomfortably. “Unless…” Xander said, realisation dawning in his eyes. Methos looked to Giles for help, but none was forthcoming.
“Unless what?” Methos asked cautiously.
“Well, maybe they discovered that you were working on the Methos chronicles. If they found that out then they might think you know where to find him.” Giles and Methos both internally let out a sigh of relief.
“No, I don’t think that can be it. The sect seems to be unaware that the Horsemen existed and even if they knew that, they certainly don’t know that they’re Immortals.” Giles said. “Now, let’s go and find out what our friend has to say for himself. Xander, you stay here please and look through the database for any information on the current whereabouts of the Horsemen.” He and Methos knew that he was letting Xander go on a wild goose chase. The most he would find was that Duncan MacLeod had killed two Horsemen and a third was killed by an unknown Immortal. Thanks to the tinkering of Joe and Methos there was no information on Methos for at least two hundred years and nothing solid for nearly five centuries. And there was absolutely nothing to link Adam Pierson to that submarine base in the south of France.
The two ancient Immortals walked down the corridor from Giles’ office to the room where the demon was being held.
“What if they do know who I am Rupert?” Methos hissed.
“As I said to Xander, that’s highly unlikely. I wasn’t lying to him and I’m not lying to you. Although it does seem rather strange they should take such an interest in you.”
They entered the interrogation room, more a broom closet really, only six feet square. The walls had been left bare, the greying plaster adding to the oppressive feeling that the room generated. A few well placed spells increased the feelings of despair for any prisoner held there and made them more willing to talk. The demon was strapped to a wall on the far side from the door. Human rights didn’t apply to non-humans.
“Why were you following me?” Methos demanded as soon as he entered. The demon just scowled at him.
“Silence won’t help you. We know that you belong to the Sect Quaquitator. Tell us why you were following him and we will let you rejoin your brothers.” Giles said amicably. The demon laughed.
“I’ve seen television. This is what humans call the good cop bad cop routine isn’t it? Well it won’t work. I serve the noble cause and if you kill me I go to my end with a glad heart.”
“I thought your clan seek only to bring about the resurrection of the Four Horsemen?” Giles asked. The demon looked slightly shaken that they knew so much about his sect, but he did not answer.
“Tell me, how is following me everywhere and ransacking my room going to bring about the apocalypse?” Methos demanded. Still the demon did not answer. Frustrated, Methos drew his sword and placed it against the demon’s neck. “Dammit, answer me!”
Suddenly the demon broke free of his bonds, demonstrating a hitherto unsuspected supernatural strength. He thrust himself forward, onto Methos’ blade, severing his head from his neck. Methos and Giles watched the head bounce across the floor and the body slump to the floor.
“The bloody fool. He would rather die than tell us what he was doing?” Giles said sadly.
“Now what do we do? There goes our only lead.” Methos said.