Wesley and Adam were engrossed in the translation of the Druid text when Angel and Cordelia entered the Library.
Wesley got up from the book-laden table and reached for another text from the bookshelf.
“Here look at this.” He handed the pertinent passage to Adam.
The old immortal read the section and then looked back at the text that Brian had sent to him. “Yes, I think you are right.” Adam continued to read.
Gunn went over to Angel and Cordelia. “They have been going over those old books non-stop forever. Every once in awhile, they will look up and make some cryptic type statement, then go back to reading. It is annoying and boring to watch. When can we fight something?”
“Cordelia, are you okay?” Duncan looked up in concern at the young woman standing close to the vampire. Cordelia gave a small nod.
“What have you found out?” Angel ignored the Highlander and motioned to all of the research materials on the table.
Wesley stood up and rubbed his face. “Actually, a lot. Brian was quite right to be concerned.” Wesley noticed Cordelia’s expression.
Surprisingly, it was Methos who offered the sad young immortal words of comfort. “Cordelia, Brian died doing something he believed in. He saw a danger to you and to the world and interfered. And because of his interference and death, we can prepare to fight what is ahead. So, be sad if you must, but be grateful for who he was and his courage.”
“I am grateful,” she responded slowly. “But I am tired of the ‘heroes’ dying. It is just not fair,” she complained.
Angel squeezed her hand, knowing she was thinking not only of Brian, but of their friend Doyle. Cordelia continued, “You, Mac, me and Angel, well, are hard to kill, but what about…” She choked as she looked at Wesley, then Gunn. “It is just not fair.”
Gunn fidgeted as he realized that she was referring to his and Wesley’s mortal status. Gunn was grateful that he was dark skinned, otherwise the blush that was creeping up on his face would be noticeable. Most of the time, he thought that Cordelia was annoying, pretty, but annoying. But more and more as he spent time around her he realized that she was actually a very caring person.
Wesley, on the other hand, had known for a long time just how selfless and compassionate the true Cordelia was. Wesley smiled. “Cordelia, life is not fair, but remember, like Brian, Gunn and I are here by choice. So, don’t worry.”
Cordelia scrunched up her face and nodded. “Well, so what have you mighty bookworms found out?”
Angel was proud as he heard Cordelia’s spirit reassert itself.
“Yes, well…I have…” Methos’s cough interrupted Wesley. “We,” the former watcher sheepishly corrected,”have discovered that this text was written in approximately 200 AD, by a sect of Druid priests.
That in of itself is amazing. Druids for the most part relied on the oral tradition of imparting their beliefs and wisdom, rather than the written word. Anyway, from the tone and content of the writing, we believe that it was written in response to one of their member’s attempt to bring forth an ‘all powerful immortal’…”
Angel pulled Cordelia to the large armchair and settled the young immortal on his lap. Angel recognized that Wesley was now in his lecture mode and therefore, he wanted to get comfortable. Gunn following his lead sat on the couch and accepted the fact that it would probably be awhile before he got to fight anything.
“Dennis..” Cordelia whispered. A slight breeze left the room only to return seconds later accompanied by beer, coffee, a mug of blood, soda and bottled water. All of the occupants of the room except Wesley grabbed for a beverage.
Wesley frowned at the interruption and waited impatiently for the activity to stop. “Now then, is every one comfortable?” he asked sarcastically. He rolled his eyes as the room responded in the affirmative.
“Good. Anyway, in that period of history, Christianity was on the rise and spreading. It seems that Fergus, a powerful Druid priest, became alarmed about the rumors of the growing religion that boasted of a single all-powerful god that was above all other deities. The all powerful god had sent his only son onto the world to be his messenger. That son was killed and then arose. Fergus heard it told that when the son returned it would signal the end of the world. To protect his beliefs and his world, he fashioned talismans to be used in concert to create an immortal with the power of the elements. He planned that his immortal being would fight the new god’s son for dominance of the world.
The items that Methos recognized as stolen were probably those talismans or a least part of the items necessary.” Wesley paused and looked around for a drink. He gave a disgusted grunt as he realized that Dennis had not brought him anything to drink. “We need to find out what was exactly stolen and trace any other Druid relics that have been stolen over, well, probably the last 20 years.”
“What?” whined Cordelia, imagining countless hours behind the computer. She sighed in disgust.
“St. John was a watcher for at least that long. We don’t know when he discovered this.” Wesley held up the text. “We know, most likely, that he has the goblet and tablet, but there may be other things. The Druids tended to utilize stones, magical cauldrons and druid rods. But, actually, what is more vital to know is whether he has the sword.”
“Sword?” “What?” Came from the now attentive audience.
“Yes, sword. And this is where Cordelia and Angel come in. Now, if you would stop interrupting.”
Angel instinctively caught the book that went flying towards the former watcher’s head. Wesley gave an evil look to the air. The men around the table tried to stifle their smirks as Wesley shot a glare at them.
“You should have let it hit Mr. Know-it-all,” Cordelia whispered. Angel gave her a look and commanded the ghost to behave.
“On with it, Wesley. What about Cordelia?” demanded the vampire.
“Yes,” Wesley looked around suspiciously. When he was satisfied that no more texts would fly towards him, he continued,”It seems that the other Druid priests didn’t agree with Fergus, in fact, they felt that his attempt to raise the immortal would unbalance the nature of their world and bring about a greater catastrophe then this new deity. So, they stopped him, killed him I suppose. However, they didn’t destroy the talismans, rather they created their own, a sword. If the immortal should ever appear, then one of the Fianna, with the seer’s gift would be able to invoke the sword’s power and behead the immortal.”
Wesley stopped and waited for the questions. He was surprised by the stillness that came over the room. It wasn’t that no one had questions, they just didn’t know where to start.
“Okay, I’ll go first,” said Gunn. “What is a Fianna?”
“The Fianna were a class of warriors, comprising of both young men and women. Several were also seers, among other things. And to an ancient Druid, Cordelia would be one of the Fianna. She is not only a seer, but also a warrior. In addition, she knows how to behead an immortal.”
“This immortal…Well, it is not part of the game,is it?”
“No,” answered Methos. “But the Druids did believe that beheading was the best way to ensure their opponents deaths. So, it is only natural that they would require that method of killing. You have to understand, Druids didn’t believe in the Christian values of good or evil or even those of the ‘Powers to Be’. When Fergus devised this spell, he wasn’t trying to invoke a great evil. He was fighting for his beliefs, misguidedly to be sure. And the power he wanted to invoke was by our definition evil, mainly because if the immortal emerges he can and will dominate the world. Unless, the Christian Christ comes and defeats him, which would bring about another whole type of Armageddon. It would be better if we just do what the ‘Powers’ want and have Cordelia defeat it.
“‘The Powers’ they haven’t actually told me to go and fight this thing.” Cordelia commented.
“Maybe not in your visions, but they have in this text. Because, not only does the Fianna have to be a seer, SHE has to hold the undead warrior’s soul. And since, vampires and souls were not something that Druids really thought about, I would say that the ‘Powers’ influenced those Druids in crafting the sword and writing this text. The coming of this ‘all powerful immortal’ is foretold and Cordelia is the one to defeat it.” Methos looked expectingly at the vampire with a soul holding tightly onto his seer.
“Okay, I get it. I have to behead the misguided and/or evil immortal,” stated Cordelia. “But, oh so-smart ones, the almighty sword. Where is the…Owww…” Cordelia clutched her head in pain. Angel pulled Cordelia into his chest.
The men watched as Angel caressed the shaking body of the young immortal. “They are sadistic,” she cried as her brow cleared of the pain. “They are…” Cordelia stopped her ranting and looked towards the door.
“Damn, this is just too much,” she complained shaking off Angel’s hold. “Where is my sword? Oh, thank you, Dennis.” Cordelia took her sword from the air and followed the other two older immortals out of the room.
Duncan and Methos had already drawn their swords and headed for the hotel lobby to meet the immortal that entered the building.
Angel grabbed at Cordelia a she started to leave the room.
“Angel, no. I will be okay, I promised.” She smiled and kissed him.
Angel stood still. He had already seen Cordelia take two other immortals’ heads. He hated it. The ‘game’ was just one other part of her destiny that he couldn’t protect her from. And he admitted selfishly, it was the one part that allowed for the bond between Cordelia and Duncan Macleod.
He hated that bond. His demon and male ego raged at the idea that another male shared a commonality with Cordelia, that he couldn’t. But it wasn’t just his jealousy that made him hate Cordelia’s new status as an immortal.
It was the killing; it was bad enough that the beautiful young girl had to suffer an unnatural life by being his seer. But as an immortal, she had to learn how to kill. He hated that she had to learn that skill. He wished with all of his undead life that the Cordelia could live out a natural life with fun and parties, not death.
But he, also, admitted to himself, he needed Cordelia and the idea that she could live forever with him was his salvation. He couldn’t contemplate what would happen to him, if she was beheaded, while he was still alive.
“Well, this is interesting,” the strange immortal said to the group that entered the hotel lobby. “I only want the seer.” The man pointed his sword at Cordelia. “So, you two…” He gestured to the Highlander and Methos. “…Will just to have stay out of it. And keep the others away, especially the vampire. It is the rules, you know.”
“Believe me, I know the rules,” answered Methos. “But why do you want the young one, I will meet you.”
“You must be Methos, I can sense the old age thing. But, as tempting as it is to take your quickening, I have a job to do and that is her.” He raised his sword again at Cordelia.
“Job?” asked Duncan.
“Yes, I am getting paid to bring her head back. Off her shoulders, of course. And make sure the vampire abides by the rules,” he said as Angel growled.
“I can and will kill you, if you get lucky enough to take her head.”
“Please,” he said to vampire. “You can want all you want, but I will take her head and before the night is over you won’t be killing anyone, because you will also be dead.”
The unknown immortal gestured to the windows. Each window showed vampires anxiously waiting outside. “Okay, so you you won’t invite them in, but ‘our’ fight,” he pointed to Cordelia. “Will happen outside. It is my choice. Hide inside or come outside, it’s your choice. Either way, I will keep my head.”
“Aren’t you being a little cocky,” Cordelia quipped. She stared at the immortal. He did not look much over twenty, and she sensed that he hadn’t been an immortal for long.
“I have been trained well, ” he commented.
“Oh, really? I will put up Angel and Macleod against some arthritic old mortal as an instructor any day,” she answered. “Come on, really, what does the stupid old watcher know about sword fighting except what he might have read in those dusty old books he has lived in.
The immortal narrowed his eyes. “I will take your head.”
“Yeah right.” Cordelia turned slightly to her side. “Angel, promise me you will not go out of those doors, until you have proper back up. Promise me,” she whispered harshly.
Angel nodded grimly.
She turned to the strange immortal. “Money? You will die over money. Let’s say out of some sort of weirdness you take my head. There has got to be more. I mean you have to realize the St. John is nuts.”
“Nuts, maybe. But if I bring back the seer’s head, whatever that means, I will get a lot of money. And I will get hundreds of chronicles of immortals. It is so much easier to hunt them if I know where they are,” the immortal laughed.
“You are damaged. Let’s go,” Cordelia headed outside the hotel.
“Well, it seems that the question about the increase of vamp activity has been answered.” Gunn started to put stakes in his coat.
“Yes, it does seem that they are working with St. John. The old watcher definitely seems threatened by Cordelia. Well, gentlemen, we may not be able to interfere in Cordelia’s fight, but we can stake some vampires.” Wesley grabbed his crossbow.
Angel had turned to the weapon’s cabinet as soon as Cordelia and the other immortals left the building.
“Wesley, I want you to go up to the first floor and take out as many of the vampires that you can shoot.”
“Good idea, but make sure you aim that thing straight, okay.” Gunn pointed to the weapon in Wesley’s hands. Wesley rolled his eyes and headed up the stairs.
“Gunn, go out the back and circle around.” Angel started for the door.
Angel quickly surveyed the street trying to locate Cordelia. He glanced past where some vampires were attacking Methos and Duncan. Finally, in relief and fear, he saw Cordelia fighting the strange immortal.
He headed in her direction, only to be knocked to the ground by two vampires. Angel lunged up and staked one as the other vampire turned to dust as Wesley’s arrow went through his body. The fighting became fast and furious as Angel, Gunn, Duncan and Methos combated the vampires on the ground.
With the combined fighting action on the ground and Wesley’s effective shots from above, the number of attacking vampires dwindled until they were all dust.
The tired group of fighters gathered together to watch Cordelia and the other immortal. The two immortals’ swords clashed in the air causing sparks to fly in the darkness. Angel tensed as the immortal began to over-power Cordelia.
The young girl stumbled under the weight of his thrusts. Angel’s demon emerged as the immortal’s sword plunged through Cordelia’s chest. It was then that Angel realized that soul or no soul, Angelus was a part of him. The vampire growled as the immortal pulled the sword from Cordelia’s chest and raised the sword over his love’s neck.
“Take that swing and you will suffer pain for a very long and excruciating time before I tear your head off your shoulders,” the vampire smirked coldly. Wesley glanced nervously at Angel, his thoughts flashing back to when Angel allowed Angelus to torture and kill Lindsey MacDonald.
The immortal’s swing stalled and he looked around. He noticed that all of the vampires he had brought with him were gone. The man thought quickly as he stared at the vampire.
“This is not over, not by a long shot.” He turned and ran.
“Um, Angel?” Wesley asked hopefully.
Angel ignored the former watcher and stared at the unmoving body on the ground. He started to move forward, then stopped. “Wesley, make sure she is okay.” The vampire turned and walked back into the hotel. Wesley nodded in confusion, but satisfied that it was Angel that had spoken.
Duncan beat Wesley to the fallen girl. Wesley stood by as Cordelia started to gasp and gulp for air. Wesley stared at Macleod as the old immortal kneeled beside the awakening girl. The former watcher began to empathize with Angel’s jealousy.
He had a sudden urge to pull the old immortal away from Cordelia. Cordelia was Angel and his family. Whatever bond being immortals created between Cordelia and Duncan, did not touch the familial bond that he shared with Cordelia and especially not the bond that she shared with Angel, he thought angrily.
Cordelia suddenly opened her eyes. She blinked twice, then looked around. “Jeez, that hurt.” Her brow scrunched as she looked back and forth form Wesley and Duncan. “Where is Angel…Wesley?” she asked panic taking over her body.
“Sh, Cordy…Angel is fine, not hurt at all. He went inside.”
“Oh,” she said puzzled. “He didn’t…interfere, did he?” she asked Duncan.
“No,” Wesley interrupted. “He merely told that bastard what would happen if he took your head. It was the immortal’s choice to run.” Wesley dared the other immortals to contradict him.
“Wesley, is correct,” answered Methos. The older immortal gently pulled Duncan away from the girl.
“Good,” she said getting up. “Ewww.” She looked at her bloody shirt. “Wesley, my vision… The sword, it is here in LA at the 9th Street Gallery. I have to tell Angel.” She ran hurriedly to the hotel.
“Yes, of course, the sword.” Wesley glanced at Gunn. “Gunn, you go with…”
Methos interrupted. “Duncan will go with Gunn to the gallery to get the sword. One of us should go, just in case the other immortal is there. Wesley, you and I will research the other items that might have been stolen. Cordelia go clean up and rest…and, of course tell Angel.”
She nodded and then turned back. “I should be dead, I wasn’t good enough.”
“Go, rest,” Duncan said softly.
“Mac, stop it,” Methos whispered. “Cordelia is meant to be with the vampire. Your obvious…concern,” he understated,”…is causing some tension. I think I even saw the young kid scowl at your attention to the girl.”
“Mac, just cool it, okay.”
Duncan nodded and motioned for Gunn to follow him. “Come on.”