“In the end, there can be only one.”
“And because of that Immortals fight each other, take each other’s heads.”
“Yes.” To him it was as simple as that.
“But…you all kill each other because of a rule that no one knows the origin of.” She couldn’t fathom why they perpetuated this madness; why in this age a sensible man taught that the only way to live was by the deaths of others.
“You don’t understand. You haven’t taken a quickening yet.”
“Yet?” Buffy scoffed, “I don’t plan to.”
“You will.” This time she didn’t, couldn’t question Duncan’s statement. His voice contained the weariness of hard won certainty; a bitter knowledge borne of experience that taught him once an opponent came for your head simply killing them would never be enough. Every Immortal eventually bowed to the way of the world, lived by these rules and those who didn’t ended up dying by them.
There were more rules, rules of honour and conduct, rules that could and had been broken over and over but these three were the ones that stood central to their existence, followed more closely than any commandments. No exceptions allowed. These were the rules that every Immortal believed in, could feel in their blood, in their quickening.
“I…I just can’t understand why. You’ve told me that there are always new Immortals coming. You can’t really believe that there’ll be a final contest and the one left will rule the world.” It was as pointless as her belief that she might be rewarded for her efforts on earth.
She couldn’t stay here, didn’t want to hear him rationalise away the tenants he had lived by for so long. Couldn’t hear arguments she had made herself in so many lives repeated back to her. This couldn’t be for nothing, there had to be purpose within the chaos of their lives.
Buffy walked away from Duncan while he was still searching for a response.The idea of a prize came later than the rules of the game, much later when those who had taken many heads discovered the power granted by the combined Quickenings. That gaining energy from others didn’t just make you heal even more quickly; eventually it would make you stronger, faster. That with enough you might truly become a God.
Or perhaps it was the thing that prompted this interpretation of the symbol, the love of the quickening, of the power that made that version and its meaning so rapidly accepted. The other rules originate from the quickening so why not the central one, why not this.
So long ago that there are none left to remember it, there had been no way to take a quickening. They had no weapons which could easily decapitate an enemy so why would one attempt it? Why take the head from a man when nothing you knew seemed to stop them?
Eventually it was discovered how to kill these gods who dwell among us, the ever living, although how this happened is not remembered. And since it was only right to pit gods against one another, to ask your protector to battle those of your enemies, the quickening was discovered soon after. Its power, a destructive force as strong as anything nature could produce, only confirmed that these beings that looked like men were more than the mortals they lived among.
You could call that first quickening the origin of the prize; when that mixture of pleasure, pain and most importantly power was felt for the first time. When a god fell to his knees with the force of its impact, surrounded by the bodies of his subjects that had been caught too close.
Nothing was ever quite the same again. Because what you feel as the quickening engulfs you cannot help but be right. Suddenly you are revitalised, full of life, of power. And it is so easy to come to crave it.
~ Fin ~
Return to Choices - Chapter 6A/N:
I hope you've enjoyed reading these looks into the history of Immortals as much as I have writing them. My apologies if anything I’ve written contradicts the Highlander series… I didn’t mean to (and actively tried to avoid it), but it has been a while since I saw them all. Before I go, I'd like to thank Softly for the time she spent making this far better than my original and all those who have reviewed this story so far.