"Goodbye Uther." With a sigh of regret, Methos stood up, and gazed down at the fresh earth which covered the grave. Uther had been a good friend. For twenty-five years, since Methos had first taken on the name of King Arthur, Uther had helped him, offering sound advice and companionship. For the last fifteen of those years, when they had been living almost constantly on the road, he had kept up with the fittest of Arthur's knights. The search for the Grail was a long and hard one, and in the end it had taken Uther's life.

"You alright brother?" It was Kronos, standing behind him. Methos smiled softly. The other Immortal meant well, probably, but his sympathy was a little contrived. He was more likely to kill a man than to mourn over his grave, and he could never understand what it was like to bury an old friend.

"Yes, I'm alright. I'm not exactly lacking in experience in this department. " Methos turned to look at his old friend. "I know. He was just a mortal. He didn't count."

"Did I say that?" Kronos shook his head slightly. "I don't apologise for my opinions, brother. But I know you liked him."

"I guess that's all the sympathy I'm going to get." Methos smiled ruefully, and turned away from the grave. It was probably the last time he would see it. By the time he came this way again, it was unlikely to still be visible. "Where are the others?"

"About. Lancelot and Gawain went to that monastery we passed yesterday." He made a face. "I don't know what these people see in those places." He grinned suddenly. "Of course, it was always good business in the old days. Sacking a temple or two. Remember?"

"I remember." Despite himself, Methos could not stop a smile. "What about Guinevere?"

"I'm not sure. With MacLeod I think. He said something about going fishing. That's another thing I can't see the attraction in; sitting on a river bank. I could catch more fish with my sword."

"Fishing is supposed to be relaxing." With a deep sigh, Methos strode away from the secluded spot he had chosen as Uther's last resting place. It reminded him of the place where he had buried Rachel, someone he had once been close to, and that link with the past pleased him. Kronos wandered along behind him, thinking who knew what thoughts. They had been together for so long - more than two thousand years by Methos' reckoning, although it was difficult to be sure. All the same, there were times when the old Immortal felt that he did not know his friend all that well. You could never tell with Kronos whether he was going to hack somebody to pieces with his sword, or walk away and leave them unscathed. Even now, it was hard to be sure if he was genuinely sorry about Uther's death, or if he was glad to be rid of the man. Of all of Arthur's court, only Uther seemed to have guessed the truth about the king's identity.

They had made a camp some distance from Uther's grave, and a handful of knights and guards were waiting there. Methos knew them all by name; half of them had been born after his arrival at Uther's castle. A couple, the youngest among them, had actually been born in Camelot itself. They were young men now, but their king, and his magician, were no different from the day when they had first appeared in Southern England, looking for work in Uther's castle. Some said that they were enchanted, some that they were angels. Methos still found that funny. Of all the names that had been thrown his way, that had to be the least fitting. There was little that was angelic about Methos, particularly where his past was concerned. There was a time when he would have cut an angel's wings off if it had happened to stray too close.

"My liege." Arthur's knights stood up as the king approached, and one of them, Sir Bedievere, stepped forward. "We're sorry, sir, about Lord Uther. He was a valuable member of the Quest."

"Yes, he was." Methos smiled, his mind in distant places. "Thankyou."

"Well my liege we - we wanted you to know that we intend to see the Quest through to the end; for Uther if nothing else." He looked a little embarrassed. "We were beginning to doubt our chances of ever finding the Grail, but two nights ago Uther spoke to all of us."

Methos nodded in wry amusement. If things had been the other way around, he would probably have had his doubts about this Quest too; these people had no idea about the true issues that were at stake. The younger ones had been just children the last time that Mordred and Morgan le Fay had passed though Arthur's Kingdom, and couldn't be expected to realise how deadly the pair could be. Only vague stories of their escapades had filtered back to Methos in the last fifteen years. They had been in Britain during that time, on and off, but it was impossible to track them successfully. Morgan's powers were too strong.

"Your Highness-" Galahad, the youngest of Arthur's knights, appeared as if from nowhere by Methos' side. "Queen Guinevere asked me to tell you that she is beside the river, and wants to speak with you."

"Oh, right. Okay." Methos took a deep breath, trying to throw off the sense of foreboding that had settled on him since Uther's death. Guinevere would make him smile again; that was something that he could always count on. Leaving Kronos behind at the camp, he headed through the trees for the place by the river that he knew Guinevere would have chosen. It was a place where the weeping willows hung down, and brushed the surface of the water with their leaves. He tried not to think about Uther as he walked, tried not to remember his deep voice and his ready smile. Being an Immortal was all about carrying on, starting anew. Leaving things behind. He had accepted that long ago.

The river was broad and still. It meandered slowly through the forest, heading southward; back to Camelot perhaps. It would have been nice, to have stayed simply as King Arthur, striving to unite the country under one throne. All hope of that had vanished the day he had heard of Mordred's intention to find the Holy Grail, but perhaps he could go back, when this was all over. If there was still anything to go back to.

"Arthur!" It was Guinevere, standing to meet him. He smiled as he strode forward, trying not to notice how slow she was in straightening. She was not old yet, but it was getting increasingly hard to ignore the greying hair. To Methos she would always be twenty-five, but he knew that she did not see things that way. She was fifty now, and it could not be easy for her to accept that her husband now seemed to be younger than she was. After fifteen years on the road, with little shelter, returning home to Camelot only during the worst winters or for reinforcements, had caused all of the mortals to age a great deal.

"Guinevere! Have you caught anything?" He looked down into the water. "No. Why am I not surprised?"

"I'd like to see you do better." She smiled, as if slightly embarrassed. I just find it a little hard to keep quiet."

"I'd noticed." He looked around. "Where's Donald?"

"Further down river. He seemed to think he'd catch more without me being nearby." She feigned a hurt expression. "But I don't know what he means."

"I do." Methos smiled innocently. "You wanted to speak to me?"

"Yes. I-" She turned away, and stared into the river, watching the faint current as it headed far away. "I wanted to ask you to give all this up, Arthur. To go back to Camelot. To stop looking for the Grail. Uther is dead - the Quest has killed him. I don't want the same thing to happen to you."

"It won't." He frowned, worried by this turn of events. "Guinevere, why this sudden concern? We've been on this Quest for fifteen years. In all that time we've encountered nothing more deadly than brigands and Welshmen."

"I know Arthur. I know." She took his hands, but wouldn't look him in the eye. "But it's been fifteen years. Fifteen years! Chasing a legend that comes and goes. Arthur, I - I'm not blind. I'm not deaf. I've seen you remain unchanged by Time, and I've heard the talk among the men; that you're indestructible. Well I don't believe it. How can I? I've known you for twenty-five years. I've been your wife nearly as long. I've seen you when you're sleeping. You're not immortal, despite what people say. I don't want to lose you."

"Good grief. Guinevere, I don't understand. What's brought this on?" Methos was confused. "We've been happy together on this Quest. You've said so yourself often enough. You were always a better warrior than you were a king's wife. Why worry now?"

"Because." She sighed heavily. "I believed it all before, Arthur. I believed in the Grail, and I really thought that we'd find it. But now I'm not so sure. Uther has always been here for us, and now he's gone. I was suddenly terribly afraid that I was going to lose you as well."

Methos hugged her lightly, smiling at her fears. They were so groundless, but she couldn't understand that. He stood every chance of losing her, but she could never lose him. Still, at least he was not the only one who was caught up in dark thoughts since Uther's death. It was time to pull things together again.

"Guinevere, I can't stop this Quest." He held her at arm's length, and stared deep into her eyes. "If Mordred finds the Grail first he will destroy all that you know. He intends to rule the world, with Britain as his castle. He can do it, too, if he has the Grail. You couldn't understand, but it's because of who he is. What he is."

"What you are." She looked down at the ground. "Merlin told me years ago that you were all related somehow, but he never said how. I never wanted to know."

"I'll tell you, if you like." It was a rash thing to say, for Methos had resisted telling Guinevere the truth for years. He didn't want her to know about his fights and his wanderings; about the thousands of years that he had seen, and might yet see. He certainly didn't want to tell her what he had once been. She shook her head.

"No. I don't want to know. It's all part of something that I know nothing about. It's - it's a part of something that you used to be, in the days before we met, and that doesn't matter to me. I don't want to know about it." She smiled, a distant look in her eyes. "I meant it, you know, when I said that I wanted you to give this up. Maybe you don't fear for your life, but I do. I think you've heard so many of those tales that you're starting to believe in your own immortality. You're just a man, Arthur."

"No I'm not." He sighed. "I'm a king, and I have responsibilities. I can't let Mordred get away with what he's planning. Guinevere - I'd do almost anything to avoid losing you, but if I have to choose between you and the Quest, you must understand which way my loyalties have to lie. There's so much more at stake here than you can ever understand."

"I know." She closed her eyes, and nodded briskly. "I always knew. I just wanted you to hear what I had to say, before anybody else follows Uther to wherever it is he's gone."

"Have you been talking to sooth sayers?"

"No. It's just common sense. After fifteen years, you're either close to finding the Grail, or you're never going to find it at all. And if it's the former, it stands to reason that Mordred is going to do all that he can to beat you to it. People are going to die, Arthur."

"I know." He turned away, and walked a few paces along the river bank. "I've known that for a long time, and it's the hardest thing of all to face up to, especially since I know I won't be one of them. It's no fun sending men to their deaths when you can't follow them to their final destination."

"There you go again." Guinevere sounded almost angry. "Why won't you face the truth, Arthur? You're not a god. For Heaven's sake..." He flashed her a wry smile.

"Sorry. But an old woman once told me that when I die it'll be by being beheaded, and there's little chance of that happening in a battle, is there."

She laughed suddenly. "Arthur, I swear you are the most infuriating - Oh make yourself useful and catch me some fish. MacLeod and I were supposed to be having a competition, and I haven't caught anything yet."

"Isn't it cheating if I help?"

"Probably, but you're the king so he can't complain."

"Oh, well in that case..." He turned and picked up the fishing line, staring down into the waters as if concentrating hard on the task. In reality his mind was on other matters. Without realising it, Guinevere had given voice to one of his greatest fears. Was it possible that he had wasted fifteen years, and the life of a close friend, in the search for something that did not exist? He couldn't allow himself to think that way. Mordred believed in the Grail, and he had worrying plans for it. That had to be reason enough to keep searching. All the same, Bedievere and the others had shown signs of concern. Perhaps he should take their feelings in mind more. After all, this may be his battle, but they were likely to be the ones that were going to die for it. He shook his head, faintly. It just didn't work that way. This was a time when Kronos was right. They were just mortals; inconsequential. They had to be. They couldn't understand what they were fighting, and if they had to die, it was all in the name of a cause that was greater than all of them. He just wished that there was some way that he could feel better about it all, instead of feeling as though he was an executioner, and he was being called upon to sacrifice all his friends.


Evening came slowly, and the shadow of the monastery was long on the ground as Lancelot and Gawain left to go back to their companions. The moon was new, and in the half light, the two knights shared a light hearted and unhurried stroll, leading their horses. Neither was aware of the legacy to which they had been born, and although they had been close to Arthur and Merlin for twenty-five years, they knew nothing of the cult of the Immortals. Both were still carefree, and untouched by the paranoia which affected some of their kind. Once a man had discovered that his life did not have to end, he often became even more protective of it than he had been before. Immortals were so often more afraid of death than their mortal counterparts were ever likely to be.

For Lancelot and Gawain, however, all this lay in the future. They still believed in their mortality, and their concerns were still those of mortal men. Consequently, as they walked, it was talk of the future which absorbed their interest. They had plans for their later lives, marrying and settling down once the Quest was over. Lancelot was forty, and soon, he feared, his chances of starting a family would be over. He did not know, of course, that he could never have a family.

An owl hooted, indicating that the evening had truly begun. Another answered it, swooping low over the heads of the two knights. Gawain watched it go, trying to trace the dark shadow as it glided smoothly away.

"That's probably an omen," he said cheerfully. Lancelot laughed.

"What of?"

"I don't know. Perhaps it means that we're about to meet a beautiful woman who is in desperate need of our assistance."

"Make it two beautiful women." They both laughed.

"No point really." Gawain made a wry face. "Once we got back to the camp they'd only have eyes for Arthur and Merlin."

"Not necessarily. We might get lucky and find the only two girls in the country who haven't heard of them." Lancelot laughed shortly. "Or maybe by the time we get back, the spell will have worn off, and they'll be looking as old as they should do."

"Spell?" Gawain bent to pull some long strands of grass, and toyed with them as they walked. "Do you believe that?"

"What else is there to believe? It's been twenty-five years Gawain. At first I though that they didn't seem to be changing because I was growing older too. But now I feel that I'm older than they are. Something isn't right."

"I suppose..." Gawain smiled suddenly. "Perhaps one day they'll have to listen to our council, like they listen to the other old men back in Camelot."

"At this rate they're sure to." It was Lancelot's turn to smile. "I rather think I might enjoy that. Although for years I've been waiting for Merlin to get old enough for me to beat him when we practice together." They both laughed. Gawain chewed on a blade of grass, his eyes half closed.

"Do you really believe that they're enchanted?" he asked. The owl hooted again, and Lancelot didn't answer immediately.

"Arthur has always told me that I'll understand it all one day," he said, as though this would explain everything. The owl hooted again, and he glanced upwards, searching for the bird. It sounded very close, but he could not see it. Somewhere a fox barked, and the howl of a wolf echoed between the trees. Gawain threw his piece of grass away.

"We'd better hurry," he said. "The others will wonder where we are."

"There's no hurry," Lancelot had stopped walking, and was listening to the noises of the night. The owl was sounding more persistent now, and the wind rose, beginning to blow loose grass about their feet. Gawain shook his head.

"It's going to rain, Lancelot."

"So? I don't mind the rain. Do you?" The older knight was scanning the skies for a glimpse of the owl. Dark clouds were beginning to move across the purple sky. Gawain sighed.

"No, I don't mind the rain. I'd just rather not walk about in it any longer than necessary. Not that there's anywhere to shelter back at the camp."

"If you want to go back, go ahead, I'm going to take the long route." He closed his eyes. "I want to listen to the owls."

"You want to-?!" Gawain frowned at his friend, confused. "No, never mind. Forget I asked. You pick the oddest moments to become a poet."

"I'm no poet. I just like owls." Lancelot still had his eyes closed, and a contented smile lazed across his face. "You go on back."

"Okay, if you're sure." Gawain took a last, slightly perplexed look at his friend. "See you later."


Gawain did not take time over his journey. He rode quickly to avoid the rain, but the sky had cleared before he had gone far. He rode into the camp as the moon completed its rise, and the guards greeted him. Most of the knights were asleep, and only Arthur and Merlin were awake, talking quietly. Gawain wandered over, and Arthur rose to meet him.

"Gawain! Where's Lancelot?"

"On his way." Gawain smiled. "He wanted to listen to the owls."

"The owls?" Arthur raised an eyebrow, half amused. "Perhaps I should stop him from visiting monasteries in future." Gawain laughed.

"I don't think that was it. We were walking along normally, and he just wanted to stay and listen. Perhaps he's tired. He's not as young as he used to be." He cast a sidelong glance at his king, as if searching for a reaction of any kind, but there was none.

"Perhaps," Arthur said thoughtfully. "Although I doubt it. More likely he met some woman in one of the towns we've passed through on our way. Get some sleep, Gawain. Lancelot will turn up when it suits him."

"Your Highness." Gawain turned away, and went over to where the other knights were sleeping. He lay down beside them, trying to catch some of Arthur's conversation with Merlin. It was too faint to hear properly, and the words which he was able hear made no sense on their own. He fell asleep, cast away on thoughts of Lancelot, and how they would one day present the Grail to their king.

"He's right you know." Kronos leaned back, and gazed up at the moon. "Lancelot is getting old. Perhaps we should help him on his way. Gawain too."


"I'm serious. Quick knife in the ribs." He grinned. "And then behead-"

"No. You are not beheading them." Methos felt as though he were telling some small boy to behave. "And you're not going to help them to their first death, either."

"Fine, but it's their loss. They'll have no chance in the Game if they're too old to play."

"I'm touched by your concern." Methos smiled wryly. "I don't want them involved in this just yet. As humans their involvement in our problems with Mordred are incidental. They're only in this because we are. If they become Immortals they'll be thrown into the battle unprepared and inexperienced. Mordred is not a good enemy for a new Immortal who isn't even sure of the rules yet."

"What rules?" Kronos stretched sleepily. "I didn't realise there were any. And while we're on the subject of Mordred... You do realise he's been seen in Britain again?"

"Yes, I know. He only ever returns if his spies think they're closer to finding the Grail."

"They've thought that before."

"True." Methos frowned, remembering something that Guinevere had said earlier. "But after all this time we must be close, or we're never going to find it."

"Good point." Kronos closed his eyes. "In which case it's high time we met our friends again. We haven't had anything more than token battles for years. Worthless bands of thieves riding at us out of the sun..." He grinned. "Someone should show them how to do it properly."

"Not yet you don't brother." Methos smiled, for once allowing Kronos' words to drag him back to those glorious memories. "Until we find the Grail I need you here."

"Don't worry. I'm not about to leave yet." The smile grew broader on the dark Immortal's face, and he opened his eyes. "After all, Mordred doesn't travel alone."

"You haven't seen Morgan le Fay in fifteen years. Surely you've got over all that?" As soon as he had said the words, Methos realised that they had been pointless. Kronos never forgot anything, least of all something like Morgan. The older Immortal had never been able to gauge whether Kronos was angry at Morgan for bewitching him, or with himself for falling under her spell. Kronos laughed shortly in answer.

"What's to get over, brother? Morgan is... special. I look forward to meeting her again. It would be a special kind of Quickening."

"So long as her Quickening is all you're interested in."

"And what else would there be brother?" The wicked grin had come back for an encore. "She would make an interesting partner of course. The Horsemen had no real need for women, but I'm sorry that they didn't know Morgan le Fay. Just think what might have happened."

"It would have been interesting," Methos admitted grudgingly. "But all this is somewhat irrelevant, don't you think?" There's no way out of this now except to kill the pair of them. They're not going to give up."

"If we get to the Grail first..."

"That's not going to work." Methos was firm. "Without the Grail it won't be easy for them to take over Britain, and their powers will be somewhat limited, but they're not going to go away. They'll keep trying, and they'll want revenge. If this is going to be a problem for you, brother, you'd better tell me now, but Morgan and Mordred have to die."

"I know. I'd appreciate it, though, if you'd leave Morgan to me. We have a score to settle."

"My pleasure." He stretched, and lay back, looking up at the stars. "Why's it so cold tonight?"

"I have no idea brother. The mysteries of the weather in this country are quite beyond me."

"Some magician you are. You should be able to make it warmer." Methos sounded reproachful, and Kronos laughed.

"I can manage that." He threw a couple of logs onto the fire. "There you are." The flames leapt higher, demons dancing madly in the moonlight. Methos edged closer to the blaze, but it didn't seem to help much. It seemed colder than ever, although the wind was still negligible. Clouds were passing across the stars, and the moon had vanished. Somewhere an owl hooted, and its shadow passed overhead. Its beating wings passed close by the two Immortals, and Kronos glanced up, almost certain that he had seen the bird's glowing eyes staring down at him. Another owl hooted somewhere, and there was a rustling in the undergrowth nearby. Kronos was on his feet in an instant, sword drawn. The bushes parted, and Lancelot strode into the camp, looking cold. He saw the sword in Kronos' hand, and smiled.

"Sorry Merlin. I didn't mean to wake you up."

"You didn't." Kronos sheathed his sword and sat down again, watching the knight as he crossed to the fire. Methos had relaxed again when he saw that the new arrival was Lancelot, but Kronos relaxed for nobody. His eyes did not leave Lancelot as the knight tried to warm himself before the flames. Eventually Lancelot looked towards him.

"Is something troubling you Merlin?" he asked, an irritated edge to his voice.

"You tell me."

"What? I don't know what affects your mind." The tall knight turned to walk to where Gawain and the others were sleeping. "Perhaps we should talk about it in the morning."

"Perhaps." Kronos watched until Lancelot was lying down, his eyes closed, then he looked over at Arthur. "Do you see what I mean? These religious places are nothing but trouble. They confuse these people."

"No they don't." Methos smiled teasingly. "A monastery is a place of great peace, you know. You should visit one."

"Huh." Kronos turned his attention back to Lancelot. "He has no peace."

"True. Something does seem to be bothering him." Methos sighed. "Another of my followers who has had enough of this Quest perhaps. We've travelled the length and breadth of this country, and now even Lancelot is doubting our motive."

"You don't know that." Kronos shrugged. "And what does it matter, anyway? They're useful when we run into trouble, but they're not essential. If it comes to the worst, we don't need them. Any of them. Let them go their own ways."

"I suppose." Methos stared into the fire. "Am I losing them, brother? Have they lost faith in their king?"

"If they have, they'll soon find it again when Mordred turns up."

"Mordred? What's he got to do with this?" Methos shook his head. "He's probably miles away. He might even have left the country again by now. You know what our spies are like." Kronos was silent for a moment. He seemed almost to be trying to avoid answering. Finally, he stared at the ground.

"She's close, Methos. I can't say how close, but I think she's been here."

"Morgan?!" Methos was fully awake. "How can you tell?"

"I don't know." The younger Immortal seemed troubled by something, a state of mind from which Methos had seen him suffer before, when Morgan was nearby. "It's strange..."

"It always is where she's concerned." Methos sighed, exasperated by all of the mystery which seemed to follow in Morgan le Fay's wake. "Damn. This lot aren't ready for a battle at the moment. They all have their doubts about the Quest - not to mention Uther's death. Even Guinevere is questioning me at the moment. We're not ready for Morgan's tricks yet."

"I would imagine that's why she's here." Kronos tried to offer his friend a reassuring smile, but it was lost in his own confusion. "It's been fifteen years, brother. Why do you suppose Morgan and Mordred would come back to us now?"

"Why do you think?" Methos looked up at the dark clouds which had hidden the moon and the stars. "They've come back before, but not to get in our way. This time they must be sure that they're close to finding the Grail."

"And if they're nearby, perhaps that means that we're close to finding it too."

"Perhaps." Methos closed his eyes, and leaned back, trying to relax enough to allow sleep to come. He had a feeling that he was going to be needing it. "In that case, we're going to have to be on our guard."

"Presumably so." Kronos watched as Methos settled back to sleep, with no intention himself of following suit. Sleep did not come easily in an atmosphere of tension that could be cut with a knife. The knowledge that Morgan was not far away put him on edge, and despite his assurances to Methos that it was not a problem, Kronos was not so convinced. A cold wind blew, and he let his hand rest on his sword. The sooner this Grail business was over with, the better. Under different circumstances he would probably have been working with Mordred and Morgan, or would have been just ignoring them, allowing them to complete their work unhindered. He cared little about such trivialities as who was ruling the world, so long as they did not prevent him from having his fun. It would have been nice, to have been able to co-operate with Morgan, instead of facing the likelihood of having to take her head. Beside him, Methos stirred restlessly, his active mind unstilled by sleep. He was probably dreaming of his Quest, and of his own, unspoken reasons for wanting to defeat Mordred. Sometimes Kronos thought that he did not know Methos anymore. They had been together so long, but now they looked at the world from opposing sides, which were sure to bring them into conflict eventually. Troubled, Kronos scanned the night with watchful eyes. The owl hooted again, sounding close by, and he listened to it, letting his imagination do odd things to the ghostly cry. In the featureless dark of the night, the owl sounded remarkably like a woman laughing.


Methos awoke to the sound of voices. He allowed his mind to rest on the conversation for a while before he opened his eyes. Lancelot and Gawain were arguing, and that made him stand up immediately. The two friends hardly ever quarrelled. They seemed to be talking about the Quest, and Methos quickly discerned that Lancelot had doubts, which Gawain did not sympathise with in anyway. Kronos was sitting nearby, his back to a tree, watching the argument with an expression of faint amusement.

"I don't understand you, Gawain. I thought you had more sense than the others. Maybe I was wrong." Lancelot was shaking his head in exasperation. He turned to the other knights, who were gathered around listening. "Brothers, you've all expressed your doubts in the past. I've heard you. We don't need to follow in Arthur's footsteps any longer. This Quest is stupid. It has no end. Do you want to spend the rest of your lives in search of something that doesn't exist?"

"Lancelot!" Guinevere rose up, her face flushed. "You don't know what you're saying. I've never heard you speak like this before."

"Only because you've never listened." Lancelot turned suddenly to Guinevere, his voice almost a snarl. "You're only ever listening to Arthur, hanging on his every word like all these fools who trail after him. None of you have minds of your own."

"That's enough Lancelot." Methos stepped forward quickly, fixing his old friend with a deadly stare. "I don't know what's got into you-"

"Nothing's got into me." Lancelot sounded tired, almost disgusted. "I'm just sick of all of this. I've had enough of your Quest, Arthur. I don't want to be a part of it any more."

"Lancelot!" Gawain sounded shocked. "You can't mean that!"

"I mean it." Lancelot swung round to the other knights. "What about the rest of you? Are you with me or him? You can't honestly tell me that you've never considered leaving."

Bedievere stepped forward, his face grave. "Lancelot, we've all spoken of it, we can't deny that, but things have changed. Uther is gone now, and we've sworn to complete the Quest in his name. You'll find no allies among Arthur's knights."

"No?" Lancelot seemed amused. "I doubt that, Bedievere. You just wait, and then you'll see. You'll have changed your minds before you know it." He strode to his horse, still saddled from the night before, and swung himself up onto its back. Methos stepped aside to let him ride away, then looked over to Kronos, amazed.

"What happened?" he asked. Kronos shrugged lazily.

"He woke up, started to mutter about the Grail, and then-" he shrugged again. "You saw the rest."

"But I don't expect that from Lancelot." Methos stared after the departing horse, and then looked back to the other knights. "I'm worried about him. Somebody should follow."

"I'll go." Gawain stepped forward, but Methos shook his head.

"No, not you. You're too close to him. I need somebody else."

"I'll go then." Sir Owain stepped forward, and Galahad followed. Methos nodded. Both knights were capable of moving swiftly and silently, and he had no doubts about the value that they placed on discretion. They moved off quickly, and when they were gone, Methos sat down beside Kronos, looking dejected. Guinevere came to sit with them, her hand on her husband's shoulder.

"It's alright, Arthur," she said, although her own concern about Lancelot made her voice sound less than reassuring.

"Is it?" He sighed. "With Lancelot gone, and Owain and Galahad following him, I'm left with only three knights. Fifteen years ago I set off with twenty."

"And most of them were too old to make it past the first year," Guinevere pointed out. Methos shrugged.

"Maybe. I just can't help thinking that I've gone wrong somewhere. They used to follow me without question."

"Used to." Kronos was watching the bushes which had swung back to cover the path taken by Lancelot and the others. "Your knights aren't capable of resisting some temptations, brother."

"What do you mean?" Methos looked over at Kronos, startled. "Temptations?"

"Persuasions..." The smaller Immortal stood, and picked something up from the ground. It was a feather from an owl. "Some voices are stronger than others. Wouldn't you say?"

"I suppose..." Methos suddenly sat up straight. "Good grief! You mean Morgan le Fay!"

"That's right. My guess is that she met with Lancelot last night. I told you that she was close by."

"But then he'll have gone to her - and I sent Galahad and Owain too." Methos stood up. "We have to follow."

"No we don't." Kronos was still staring in the direction taken by Lancelot and the others. He looked oddly troubled, almost as if he were jealous in some way. "They're not important; Morgan won't kill them yet. Not Lancelot anyway."

"But we can't just let them wander straight into her arms." Guinevere also stood up. "Merlin, this is Morgan le Fay you're talking about."

"I know." Kronos looked over to Guinevere, his expression coldly calculating. "And I know her a lot better than you do. Lancelot isn't in any danger, and the others don't matter much. The fact is, Mordred has decided to make a move. The first one in fifteen years. It's obvious that he's found out something about the Grail. It must be close by."

"And that's reason to sacrifice Lancelot and the others?" Guinevere looked from Kronos to Methos. "You won't do anything to stop Mordred - just because he's close to finding the Grail?"

"We're not sacrificing anybody. I've told you; Mordred won't kill Lancelot. It makes no difference whether Galahad or Owain live or die." Kronos swung around and walked over to the dying embers of the fire. The handful of guards standing nearby backed away, their expressions hostile. Guinevere looked to Methos in confusion.

"Arthur... You don't agree. You can't agree. Galahad and Owain-"

"I don't agree." Methos hung his head. "But I understand. Don't you see? We came on a Quest; we can't fight Mordred without an army. I'd have to send to Camelot for reinforcements before I can lead an attack. I only have a handful of men, and the best of them has gone to Mordred. Lancelot could beat all of us except Merlin. What chance do we have?"

"I see." There was enough reproach in those two words to make Methos' head hang even lower, and he turned from Guinevere's accusing eyes.

"Someone will have to go to watch Mordred. To find him and try to discover where he's going, what he knows. Damn him, I can't work out how he's been able to discover some clue about the Grail. For fifteen years I've been searching every religious building in Britain, talking to every historian, every learned man I could find, and none of them could tell me anything."

"Why not go to him." Bedievere turned suddenly, his eyes bright. "We could mount a sneak attack. It's not very honourable, but then neither is Mordred. If we could capture him-"

"We couldn't capture him." Methos was still looking subdued, and almost apologetic. "He never travels without a big escort."

"But if we caught them by surprise, my liege - His men wouldn't have time to prepare."

"We couldn't catch him by surprise." Methos rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Look, Bedievere. Everybody - You can't understand, and I don't expect you to, but Mordred and Morgan will know that we're coming - Merlin and I anyway. They have... ways of knowing these things."

"Do they." Percieval, one of the newer knights, took a step forward. "Suppose we're willing to take the chance?"

"And suppose I'm not willing to let you. If we even try to mount a sneak attack, Mordred will know we're coming before we can get near him; unless Merlin and I - and Gawain - remain here. The rest of you couldn't hope to beat Mordred by making wild and useless gestures. Can't you see that? We're the last line of defence in all this. I'm not going to just throw that away."

"Nobody told me that my king was a coward." Percieval, his expression rapidly turning to one of disgust, began to head for the horses. "If you are so determined to stay out of this, Your Highness, we don't mind finishing it for you, but there's no reason to involve Gawain in your cowardice. You can't make him stay out of this."

"I'm no coward Percieval." Methos spoke softly, his voice barley audible to those who were furthest away from him. "You just have to believe me when I say that-"

"You're not a coward, but you're prepared to let Owain and Galahad ride to their deaths? You're not a coward, but you refuse to ride against Mordred, or even to make some vague attempt to find out what he knows? You want others to do your work for you, and you make feeble excuses for yourself. Perhaps Lancelot was right."

"Is that really the way you feel?" Methos no longer had the will to be angry. He sounded very tired, and Guinevere, despite her earlier anger, moved suddenly to him, although she was not yet prepared to take his hand.

"Yes. That is how I feel." Suddenly seeming to grow taller, Percieval faced Methos squarely. "Look at you, not even standing up for yourself; and all your friends not strong enough to defend you instead."

Kronos, who had been standing nearly the entire length of the camp away, moved with a speed that was unnerving. In the blink of an eye he was standing in front of Percieval, his sword drawn and the tip of the blade against the outspoken knight's throat.

"You should be very careful about who you insult," he said softly. His face and voice seemed expressionless, but Methos, who knew his fellow Immortal better than any other man, could read murder in his brother's eyes. He was surprised to find that he had no inclination to stay Kronos' hand.

"You won't kill me," Percieval said, his tone challenging. Kronos smiled, and the light caught his eyes, decorating them with a manic tint.

"Won't I? Why not?"

"Because then you'd have to kill the others too."

"So?" Kronos let his smile fall away, and his face hardened. "I don't care. Their lives don't mean anything to me."

"You're lying." The first suggestion of doubt drifted into Percieval's voice, and his proud stance faltered slightly. Eyes cold, the Immortal's expression changed again, this time into a sneer.

"And you're terrified. This world will be a better place without you."

"Arthur, stop him!" Suddenly afraid, Guinevere turned to her husband, and was amazed to see the expression on his face. It matched that of Kronos almost exactly, and his eyes seemed to be those of a stranger. It seemed as though she were looking at another man; or at an echo of what he had been before she had met him. "Arthur, please!"

"What?" He turned to her, his face hard, and for a second he stared at her as though she were something considerably less than significant. She took a step back, and then his eyes softened. "Sorry Guinevere. I-" He shook his head, and turned back to the others. "Let him go, Merlin."

"What? After what he said?" Kronos didn't look at Methos, and his eyes never left those of Percieval. Methos sympathised, but all the same, this was no time for a massacre, particularly since he wasn't entirely sure that he would be able to stay out of it.

"I know, brother. But it wouldn't be worth it. And I have a suspicion that he's not acting entirely independently." Kronos made no move for several long seconds, then he sheathed his sword and stepped back, understanding dawning on his face.

"Morgan..." he said softly, and Methos nodded. It was the only explanation, for Percieval was usually the gentlest of the knights. Perhaps Morgan had got to him through Lancelot, or perhaps she had some other method. It hardly mattered.

"You think we've been bewitched?" Percieval laughed shortly, his courage returning now that he was no longer under any immediate threat. "I don't think so. I think we've just realised the truth. Lancelot was right; I do see now. You've been lying to us; trying to make us see things your way. All along, you were the evil ones. You should be made to pay."

With a sudden yell, Percieval drew his sword, and flung himself forward. Kronos spun around, his own sword drawn in an instant. With his first blow he sent the knight's weapon spinning through the air, and with his second he drove Percieval to his knees. The knight blinked up at him through a haze of pain, blood pouring from a shoulder wound. The Immortal seemed to be fighting the urge to finish things for good, but finally he stepped back. Methos helped Percieval to his feet.

"You'd better leave," he said unnecessarily. Percieval pulled away, and stumbled to his horse.

"Are you coming?" he asked his companions. Bedievere looked over at his king, suddenly confused. He had meant everything that he had said earlier to Lancelot, but now he felt almost like a different man. He found that he no longer believed in Arthur's great Quest. He had to go to Mordred and Morgan le Fay. They were his true leaders.

"I'm coming," he said, and turned immediately to saddle his horse, and Percieval's. "Gawain?"

"I - I think I'm coming too." When the knight turned to Arthur, there was conflict written in his eyes. "I have to do this, Your Highness. I'm not sure that I agree with what Percieval said, but I have to find Lancelot."

"Of course. I understand." Methos made no move as his last three knights rode away. His heart had not felt so heavy in a long time. All of this time, all of this work, and now Morgan could undo it all with a mind control spell cast over the camp in the dead of night. All of his most trusted knights had turned against him, and had gone to join with his greatest enemy. He looked around at those who remained - Guinevere, Donald MacLeod, Merlin and a handful of guards.

"Is anybody else thinking of leaving?" he asked.

"Of course not." MacLeod's gentle Scottish burr sounded as oddly reassuring as ever. "I'm not the sort to quit so close to the end."

"And I'm not about to leave either." Guinevere laid her hand on her husband's arm. "I'm sorry Arthur. Don't take it too hard."

"Don't take it too hard?" He laughed bitterly. "When I woke up this morning I had six loyal knights by my side. It's not noon yet and all six of them have gone to join Mordred. There are times when it is so hard..." He turned sharply to the guards.

"Mount up," he ordered briskly. "I want you to return to Camelot. I don't care how long it takes you. Get back there, and stay there until you hear from me. If we come back, all's well and good. If not... Well, it won't matter. Mordred will be your new king. Understand?"

"Sire." The guards clearly did not understand, but they mounted their horses, and rode away, heading roughly south. Once they had gone, Kronos strode to his horse. Methos frowned at him.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"Where angels fear to tread." He grinned. "Where do you think I'm going?"

"You must be insane."

"That's right." He laughed, and swung up onto the horse's back. "I'll stay out of range; promise."

"And camels might fly."

"Quite probably." The younger Immortal's eyes shone teasingly. "Come on, Arthur. We're not getting anything accomplished here. Mordred always said that he didn't plan to kill us. Maybe it's time to put that to the test."

"And if he kills you-"

"-Then I'll know that he was lying." Kronos wheeled the horse about, and began to head off after Lancelot and the others. Before he rode out of the camp, he stopped and looked back. "Come with me brother."

"We'd be risking everything."

"No more than we're risking if we sit here and wait for Mordred to complete the Quest for us." Kronos raised his eyebrows, looking oddly playful. "Come on brother. Death or glory."

Methos laughed. Kronos was probably right. It was a time to throw caution aside. On the other hand, he could equally probably be wrong, and they would be riding to the certain destruction of the world as they knew it.

"If Mordred gets the Grail, it'll be the dawn of the Apocalypse..." he said softly, and a smile played across his face.

"Exactly, brother. And who better to face death and destruction than us?"

With a grin, Methos swung up onto his horse. He looked down at MacLeod and Guinevere, but did not speak to them. If they followed it was their problem; if they stayed behind it was also not his concern.

"Are we ready to ride, brother?" Kronos asked, and Methos answered with a grin.

"I think we are."


Guinevere and MacLeod caught up before they had gone very far. Methos still did not speak to them. He did not want to be bothered by concern for their survival. Guinevere's eyes were on his back, and he could not ignore them for long. It was she who eventually broke the silence.


"Sshh. Best keep your voice down."

"Alright. I just wanted to ask you what we're doing."

"Doing?" He turned in his saddle to look back at her. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that before, back at the camp, you were insisting that we couldn't go anywhere near Mordred. That we had to wait; send scouts."

"That was when we still had scouts to send. And anyway, I'm allowed to change my mind, aren't I?"

"I'm told it's a king's prerogative."

"Well then." Turning back, Methos tried to focus his concentration onto Kronos' back. They were travelling in single file, the path through the trees unclear to their eyes. Only the horses seemed sure of themselves.

"But why the change of heart? This talk of death and glory isn't like you, Arthur. Our men will die. You can't say that you don't care. I know you better than that."

"Maybe you don't." Methos didn't look back at her. The truth was that Kronos had reawakened something inside of him that he was having trouble getting under control, and Guinevere could not understand what that something was.

"But if you make a mistake now, Mordred will get the Grail." She was trying to talk him out of doing anything stupid, but he still had no clear idea what his plan was. Guinevere could not talk him out of doing something that he hadn't yet decided on.

"And then the result will be chaos." Despite the fact that he was up ahead, and had had his back to the entire proceedings so far, Kronos had evidently been listening. "Sounds like fun, don't you think?" Methos suppressed a smile, and twisted round again, trying to look at Guinevere properly.

"I know we're taking a chance. If Morgan had left me my knights, I wouldn't have to play it this way, but I don't really see what else I can do right now. Mordred is sure to be expecting us anyway."

"So what's the plan?" MacLeod, with his remarkable propensity for keeping silent, spoke up at last. "Where exactly are we going?"

"We're following Lancelot," Kronos told him, still staring ahead.

"And where's he going?"

"To Morgan."

"And what do we do when we get there?"

"I don't know yet." Methos coloured slightly. "I can't think of everything."

"Fine." There was a moment's silence before MacLeod continued. "If we kill Mordred and Morgan, will Lancelot and the others come back to us?"

"Probably." Methos frowned. "Yes, I think so."

"And if Mordred and Morgan are dead, we won't need to find the Grail," Guinevere added, suddenly sounding hopeful.

"That's the idea, yes."

"So we're planning to get them alone, and kill them?" Guinevere frowned. "Something tells me we'd have to go through our people first."

"Quite likely." Methos turned back to face in the direction of travel. "And we can't sneak up on them anyway."

"So you said; although I don't see why."

"Magic," Kronos put in, the hint of a smile in his voice. Methos ignored him.

"I can't explain that easily," he said haltingly. "It's so damn complicated. Just accept it. The fact is that killing Mordred won't be easy. He's not going to trot out to meet us. I still think that getting to the Grail first is the best bet, or taking it away from him when he's found it."

"That won't be easy." Kronos laughed. "I don't think even the Horsemen of the Apocalypse can stop Doomsday once it's started." Guinevere shuddered.

"Don't speak of such things, Merlin," she chided. "The Horsemen aren't a joke. Some people believe that they're real men, and that they will come one day."

"Count on it." If Kronos was smiling, it was lost to the trees. Methos scowled at his back.

"We're going to have to do something," he mused. "Once we get close to them, they're going to know that we're there. We can ride in and cause a bloodbath, or we can just ride up and say hello, so to speak."

"Do we take a vote?" Guinevere asked. Methos shrugged.

"I suppose."

"Then I vote for the second option. I don't want to see Lancelot and the others get hurt."

"Lancelot won't get hurt." Kronos spoke with the tone of voice of one who was getting tired of repeating himself.

"So you say."

"I vote for the second option too," MacLeod said, his voice as soft as ever, but firm nonetheless. "There's no sense in causing a bloodbath."

"Fine. I guess that makes it three to one." Methos did not bother to ask Kronos for his opinion. "We ride in, and - hope."

"Hope. Right." Kronos sounded deadpan. "Well it doesn't bother me either way, brother."

"Yeah, I'd noticed." Methos spared himself an increasingly rare smile. He could imagine the world of turmoil and chaos which was likely to result from Mordred's claiming of the Grail, and he had no problem imagining Kronos in the middle of it; or himself, either, should it come to that. He did not want to revert to his former tendencies, but he knew that they would soon come back to him in a world such as that one would be.


In a makeshift camp, where ranks of soldiers lay in disorder, and six newly arrived knights stood to confused attention, Mordred, the Dark Knight, surveyed the map held carefully in his hands. It was already old, and had been well handled. Soon it would be unintelligible. He turned it over in his hands. There was no doubt that the caves marked on it were the ones which lay before him, but from here onwards things got complicated. There were many passages marked on the map, all branching off into a complex spider's web of tunnels. There was little to indicate which was the correct one. Morgan le Fay, fresh from admiring her latest recruits, walked over to join him, her dark hair blowing in the breeze.

"They're coming," she said.

"Hmm?" Mordred glanced up from the map, looking confused.

"Arthur and Merlin. They're not far away."

"Really?" Mordred raised an eyebrow. "Good. We might as well have a full house."

"They're not here to enjoy our company, Mordred." Morgan smiled to herself. "They obviously have some intention of stopping us."

"Of course they do." Mordred sighed, almost sorrowfully. "Arthur can be very unimaginative. But if he thinks he can accomplish anything by coming here, he's mistaken. By the time he's had a chance to do anything, the Grail will be ours."

"He may be unimaginative, but he's no fool. He's planning something."

"Of course he is. But I hadn't overlooked that." Mordred regarded the map critically, rather as an artist might survey his canvas. "He'll come, intending to get in my way, and I won't let him. It'll all go according to plan, my dear." He frowned. "Just as long as you remember that Merlin is the enemy."

"If you say so." She smiled, a dangerous, killer smile, and Mordred fought off a shudder. "Can I kill them?"

"Not yet, no; this is all Holy Ground." He frowned. "I wanted them on our side, but I'm not sure that's possible now. We'll see what happens when we take the Grail. Our powers will be stronger then."

"Much stronger." Morgan was smiling, and her dark eyes glowed with hidden nightmares. "Every Immortal will bow before us, and every mortal will be our slave. The possibilities are limitless."

"We have to find it first." Mordred held the map out to her. "I can't tell which passage we should take. They all look the same."

"So send out some scouts. One of them is sure to find the right tunnel." Morgan stiffened suddenly, and her eyes met with Mordred's. They turned as one, to see the bushes nearby part. Kronos rode into the camp first, followed closely by Methos. Afterward came Guinevere and MacLeod, but neither of these latter two was important to the evil Immortals. Mordred stepped forward.

"Arthur! I've been expecting you."

"So glad." Methos dismounted, trying to maintain the appearance of good cheer. "I trust you received my delegation?"

"Of course." Mordred smiled broadly. "But that's Morgan's department." He smiled at his wife, and frowned when he saw the direction of her gaze. Kronos dropped to the ground, and stood shoulder to shoulder with Methos. As ever, he was unmoved by pleasantries, and unconcerned by Mordred's animosity.

"So? You were expecting us, and now we're here. What now?" Mordred eyed him sourly.

"Now we go to find the Grail," he said. "I believe I'm supposed to gloat at this point, and tell you all about my plans. Not that they take much guessing."

"Not really, no. It doesn't take a genius to see that you're planning to rule the world." Methos smirked. "Although you're not the first to try that one, and I doubt you'll be the last."

"Ah, but the others didn't have unlimited powers at their disposal. An army of Immortals." Mordred lifted his head proudly. "I'll unite Britain beneath me, and use the whole of the population as my war machine. I can't fail. It's been my goal for twenty-five years."

"Well it's certainly taken you a long time to reach it." Methos smiled, allowing the hint of a taunt to creep into his voice. Mordred frowned slightly.

"It wouldn't have taken so long, if I hadn't had to be so careful," he admitted. "If I could have had my run of the country, as originally planned, I could have taken the Grail long ago, but I don't plan to let you get in the way any more."

"I thought you might say that." Methos looked around, spotting Lancelot and the others nearby. "So what exactly does happen now?"

"We go in there." Mordred pointed at the cave entrance. "You stay out here, of course. I'm sure that my men will keep you comfortable."

"Oh good." Methos nodded at his former men. "I take it they'll be staying with us?"

"Of course. They're quite convinced that you're the enemy. They'll kill you without thinking anything of it."

"Kill us, hey?" Methos raised an eyebrow.. "I'm so scared." Mordred's face darkened.

"They can certainly kill your good lady wife, Arthur, and they can slow you down. They're ready to obey my every word; and soon the rest of the world will be too."

Methos rolled his eyes. There had been a time when ruling the world had been a goal of his, in a way. Somehow it seemed so much less glamorous when Mordred spoke of it. He sat down, and leant back against a convenient mound of earth.

"Wake me up when it's all over, won't you."

"Certainly." Mordred gestured to a group of his guards, who began to head for the cave entrance. Mordred followed briskly, not wishing to waste any more time in a fruitless exchange of insults with King Arthur. The man was positively infuriating, and Mordred was already planning some pleasant fate for him, when the Grail was won. He was aware that Morgan was lingering behind, and he refrained from turning back. In a few hours, if everything went according to plan, she would no longer have any desire to play with Merlin. There was no sense in being jealous now.

"Hello Merlin." She leaned close, and her cold, dark eyes met with the equally cold eyes of Kronos. "Have you decided to join us yet?" He laughed.

"You haven't won yet."

"But we will."

"Then if you do, I'll join you." His face was open and honest.

"But you'll still try to stop me." She looked sad. "We could have made such a team."

"Yeah, I know." It was hard to explain that in many ways he wanted her to win. It would be another chance to run the gauntlet in a wild and dangerous world, with Methos beside him. A world where the Horsemen would be even more at home than they had been two thousand years before, in the uncharted expanses of Europe and Asia. Almost more than anything, he wanted to go with her. Only the fact that Methos was nearby stopped him.

"It's too bad." She smiled, a sinister mix of amusement and malice, and then she was gone, following Mordred into the depths of the cave. Left alone with their six former companions and numerous guards, the four friends sat down together.

"Would you mind telling me exactly what we've accomplished?" Guinevere asked. Methos smiled at her impatience.

"Mordred is off guard now. He really believes he's going to win."

"And? How are we going to stop him, or haven't you figured that out yet?"

"We wait." Methos watched the knights who had been his friends. "I'm rather hoping to find some way to follow Mordred in there, and stop him from getting the Grail."

"Why?" Kronos, toying idly with his sword, did not look at Methos. "How do you know that Mordred's world is going to be so bad?"

"Think about it Merlin." Methos tried to catch his old friend's eye. "He'll destroy everything. Unlimited power in the hands of two people lie that?"

"And who's to say that things are perfect as they are?"

"They aren't." Methos frowned slightly. "But Mordred's world isn't going to be better. He's evil, Merlin."

"Good and evil are only relative." Kronos looked up. "I've never considered myself to be evil, but others would disagree."

"True." Methos frowned at his feet, not sure how to answer that one. "But they expect us all to follow them, Merlin. I - I wasn't sure before, if this was really our fight. I wasn't sure that we were right to stand in their way, but now - they want an army of Immortals to work for them. They plan to take the Grail as a way of transcending the Game. Everything we are, brother. Everything that is a part of us, of people like us. Our whole race would be little more than servants to Mordred. I don't want that, and I don't think you do either. I'm not pretending that there aren't certain things that I'd like about the world if Mordred won the Grail. I miss the old days sometimes too. But if going back there requires a price like this one - losing our whole heritage to Mordred - I'm just not prepared to let him win. I'm sorry."

There was a silence, before Kronos smiled, and looked straight at Methos. In the corner of his eye he could see Guinevere, looking pleasantly confused. "Okay, brother. I understand. And I'm with you."

"Good. In that case, make yourself useful, and get us into that cave."

"My pleasure." Kronos stood up, surprised at this sudden permit to cause chaos, but pleased all the same. There had been altogether too much talk recently. The guards straightened, swords drawn, and the six knights were instantly alert. Kronos cared little for what happened to them, but he had no great desire to fight them, at least not to the death. If they could be freed from Morgan's spell they would be useful later.

"Come on boys," he said happily. Two of the guards charged, and Methos tripped them neatly, killing them as quickly and cleanly as he could, with a small knife nobody had seen him draw. Stepping over their bodies, Kronos met the advance of the other guards. His sword spun merrily as the guards attacked him, two or three at a time. Behind him, he became aware that Methos and the others had engaged the knights in battle. Percieval was unable to fight effectively of course, and was easily knocked unconscious, evening the odds slightly. Kronos ignored the fighting, and concentrated on the onslaught facing him. Battle fury flooded his mind, and ignited a manic grin, which accentuated the blood lust in his eyes. His powerful sword spun almost independently, indiscriminate about who it maimed or beheaded. Confusion reigned around him as several of the guards tried to escape his sword, falling over each other, slipping in the blood which covered the ground.

In the centre of the camp, MacLeod whirled his sword, disarming Galahad quickly. The young knight stood still, waiting for the killing blow, and MacLeod was almost touched by the serenity on the other's face. He shook his head slightly, and knocked Galahad to the ground with a punch that sent jolts up his arm. The knight did not get up. Behind him, Guinevere disarmed Owain, and pushed him backwards into MacLeod's waiting arms. The Highlander dispatched him in a similar way to Galahad, and then seized Gawain from behind. The powerful knight was more of a challenge, and as the pair settled into a well matched fight, Guinevere crossed swords with Bedievere.

For Methos the battle was not so easy, as he found himself fighting Lancelot. The tall knight had complete his training under the guidance of Methos and Kronos, and his skills shone through the spell which had bewitched him. Almost angry with himself for having trained Lancelot so well, Methos fought hard, spinning Excalibur with a guarded hand. He did not want to kill Lancelot. That would raise too many questions right now. If MacLeod and the others had not been present, it would have mattered less, but now he had to be careful. He backed away cautiously, unsure of his footing on the uneven ground, and desperate to avoid hurting Lancelot in any way. the knight did not know his own mind right now. It was not easy, though, to face such hot anger without being overcome by a little of it himself. He could feel the shadows gathering in his mind, urging him to give way to the heat of the battle, and sacrifice Lancelot to his sword.

With a sudden yell, Lancelot swung close, and the tip of his sword blade caught Methos across his shoulder. It was a shallow wound, but the suddenness of the pain made him stumble, and he almost fell. Lancelot came at him again, pressing him back further, aware that he had gained an advantage. Suddenly unsure of himself, Methos was thrown into a defensive position, unable to cause too much damage. He only wished that Lancelot shared that desire. Caught off guard by another lucky blow, Methos fell, and almost lost a hold of Excalibur. He could see the blood - his own - on the hilt of his sword, and he looked up to see murder in Lancelot's eyes. He almost felt afraid as he saw Lancelot's sword descending, knowing that it was sure to be a fatal blow, albeit temporarily so. It made him angry to think that Morgan had turned one of his greatest friends so much against him.

With a startled cry, Lancelot collapsed onto the ground. Methos frowned, and then looked up at Kronos, who had appeared almost from nowhere. He was covered in blood, his face and arms decorated with splashes of the stuff, and his clothing spattered in patches. His sword was also running with redness, and through it all his eyes shone wildly. Methos blinked up at him, and accepted the offer of a hand to get up.

"Thanks. You didn't-"

"No, I didn't. He's not dead. Not even temporarily." Kronos watched Guinevere battling with Bedievere. "Should I help her?"

"No, leave it." Methos glanced over at what remained of the guards, but there was little save for a rough heap of mangled bodies. "What a mess."

"Thankyou." Kronos picked up Excalibur, and wiped the hilt clean. "Should we try using this to break the spell? It worked last time."

"It killed you last time," Methos said pointedly. "I'd rather not try it on this lot." He watched, eyebrows raised, as Guinevere used the flat of her sword to knock Bedievere to the ground. "Nicely done."

"Thankyou." She breathed heavily. "But I rather think I'm getting a little old for this."

"It's your imagination." Methos looked over to MacLeod. "Wrap it up, Donald."

"Easy for you to say." Ducking and dodging, MacLeod was finding it none too easy to defeat Gawain. The younger man was second only to Lancelot, and he seemed to be gaining the advantage. Guinevere looked to Arthur and Merlin in surprise.

"Aren't you going to do something?" she asked. Methos frowned.. He didn't like to interfere unless here was an obvious danger that the wrong man would win. Kronos had no intention of joining in, but was watching the proceedings with his familiar air of amused disinterest. Guinevere shook her head, and stepping forward, she brought the hilt of her sword down hard onto the back of Gawain's head. He collapsed, and MacLeod smiled at her.


"Don't mention it." Guinevere cast a sidelong look at Methos, as if to make a point, and he smiled guiltily.

"What do we do with them now?" Gathering the swords of the fallen knights, MacLeod turned to Methos. "If we leave them they'll come after us."

"True. But that's probably just hard luck." Methos strolled over to the cave entrance. "It's a labyrinth in here. We're never going o find the right path." Kronos joined him, and walked further into the cave, listening intently.

"They went that way." He pointed at one of the tunnels. "But some went down these other passages as well."

"They must have split up." Methos grinned. "Good. Mordred's information isn't all that water-tight. That gives us a little more time."

"We'd better hurry up if we're going to get a head start on Lancelot and the others." MacLeod wandered over, having deposited the knights' weaponry into the jumbled collection of bodies left in Kronos' wake.

"True." Methos indicated the tunnels with an expansive gesture. "Does anybody have any preferences?"

"Use Excalibur." MacLeod gestured to the sword at his king's side.

"Excalibur?" Methos drew the sword. "What do you mean?"

"Point it at the tunnels." The Scotsman sounded sure of himself, and Methos obeyed, turning to direct the blade at each of the openings in turn. Finally, as he pointed it at the eighth, the blade glowed briefly.

"That's the one." MacLeod walked over to the tunnel entrance, and looked deep inside. "Excalibur should stop us from going wrong."

"Pity it couldn't have told us fifteen years ago." Methos stared at the tunnel entrance without enthusiasm. "Oh well, here goes." He walked into the passageway. It was dark inside, but not dark enough to pose much of a visibility problem. As he went deeper he saw that the walls were glowing faintly. It was a phenomenon that he had experienced in tunnels before. They were able to progress quickly, using Excalibur to direct them, and before long they had left the surface far behind.

"I wonder if Mordred sent any guards down this tunnel," Guinevere said, breaking the almost complete silence.

"We have no way of knowing." Methos had been straining his ears to listen ahead, but could hear nothing. "He had enough men with him to have sent some down each of the main tunnels."

"Not the way they keep branching off, he didn't," MacLeod pointed out. "Half of his men will probably never find their way out of here."

"Maybe we'll get lucky, and Mordred will get lost too," Guinevere suggested. Methos laughed at the honest venom in her voice.

"Mordred has a map," he pointed out.

"Oh yeah. Pity."

They walked on. The passage branched off every few hundred paces, and only Excalibur saved them from becoming irretrievably lost in the labyrinth. The roof rose up above them, and eventually the path became straighter, with less diversions. Soon they were walking along a broad tunnel, which was clearly going downwards. Methos wondered how long they had been travelling, but all sense of time was lost in the depths of the earth. It was no longer even possible to tell which direction they were walking in.

"Do you hear something?" Guinevere, pulling ahead slightly, slowed and listened. Methos frowned.

"Water," he said. "Fast moving."

"An underground stream?" MacLeod pointed ahead. "Look - I think I can see it."

They hurried forward, anxious to assess the size of this possible obstacle. In front of them, a broad river charged past, blocking the passage completely.

"Damn." Methos leaned forward. "It looks deep."

"We'll have to swim across." MacLeod frowned. "It moves fast though. There's a danger we'll be swept away."

"Well nobody said this was going to be easy." Methos looked over at Kronos. "After you brother."

"You're too kind." Stepping forward carefully, Kronos edged out into the river, the water rising rapidly to his chest. "It's not going to be possible to wade across."

"How strong is the current?" Methos asked. Kronos walked out another pace or two, then began to swim to the other side. He was evidently pulling hard against the water, and eventually found a footing again on the other side.

"It's not too bad," he said, not sounding entirely honest. He glanced up at Guinevere and MacLeod, not sure if they were entirely capable of making the crossing. Neither was as young as they had once been. As if to prove him wrong, MacLeod strode into the river, his stance seeming to dare the current to try and pull him away. A few seconds later he was beside Kronos, and the Immortal helped him to the side.

"Guinevere and I will cross together." Wading cautiously into the water, Methos held out a hand to his wife, and she followed him in. On the other side, Kronos waded back out until the water was at his chest, bracing himself to wait. Methos took a few more steps, and Guinevere stumbled beside him. She was tall, and able to remain on her feet for as long as Methos, but the current was strong. They pushed off, ready to swim across, but Guinevere faltered, unable to pull against the water. Quite suddenly she vanished beneath the surface, and Methos made a grab for her. She slipped through his fingers.

"Guinevere!" Looking about desperately, Methos caught a glimpse of her as she resurfaced some distance away, and threw himself after her. The power of the current took his breath away, and he lost his struggle to maintain supremacy in his fight against it. The water rushed past him, above him and beneath him, pounding in his ears. He choked, and immediately regretted it, as his mouth filled with water. He tried to strike for the surface, but could no longer tell which direction it lay in. Suddenly a pair of hands caught hold of him, and his head broke though into the air.

"Take it easy," MacLeod said firmly.

"Guinevere?" Gasping for breath, Methos allowed MacLeod to pull him nearer to the shore.

"Merlin went after her." MacLeod looked out across the surface of the water. "I don't know where they are though."

"They'll be alright." More in hope than in genuine conviction, Methos scanned the river, his vision still blurred from the water in his eyes. It seemed like an age before Kronos resurfaced, dragging Guinevere. The queen was conscious, but only just.

"That was close." Methos stumbled closer to the shore, where the water was shallow enough to allow Kronos to get a surer footing. Together they pulled Guinevere up onto dry land. MacLeod followed, and as one the four collapsed onto the river bank. "I'd expected obstacles, but not like that."

Breathlessly, MacLeod rolled over onto his back, and squinted up at the roof. "Something tells me that it's not going to get any easier."

"I can't get much harder." Guinevere sat up, and coughed. "Thankyou Merlin."

"No problem." The alleged magician stood up. "Which way now Arthur?"

"Forwards." Methos clambered wearily to his feet. "At least there's no sign of Mordred yet."

"Not yet, no." MacLeod rose up, and helped Guinevere to stand. "Knowing our luck, Morgan will find some way to fly across."

"I wouldn't be surprised." Methos led the way forward, around the next corner. "You've got to be kidding."

"What?" Guinevere caught up. Ahead the ground fell away into a deep pit, from which huge flames periodically leapt, lighting the room in wild red patterns. The only way across the pit seemed to be a thin bridge, made of linked chain. It was clearly unsteady, and jerked about each time that the fires ignited beneath it. Kronos touched it experimentally, and quickly pulled his hand back. It was fiercely hot.

"Do I get to go first again?" Tearing the cloth from his sleeves, he wrapped it around his hands, and edged cautiously onto the bridge. He had gone no more than a few paces when the flames rocketed skywards once again, hurling the bridge about as though it were a small boat on a stormy sea. The heat was intense in those moments when the flames were highest, but Kronos pushed on. At the halfway point he paused, and called back.

"Come on over!" Another burst of flame drowned out his next words. "The more weight there is on the bridge, the less it'll rock about."

"Right." Following Kronos' example, MacLeod tore off his sleeves to provide makeshift gloves, and then progressed slowly onto the bridge. The first eruption of fire came before he had got very far, and the sudden heat dried his throat, making him gasp for air. He stumbled onwards, nearly losing hold of the bridge as it leapt wildly. Guinevere came next, aware as she did so that her long hair was already starting to singe. Black smoke drifted in twisting tendrils about her head, as the still wet tresses smouldered gently.

Bringing up the rear, Methos tried not to think about the insubstantial nature of the bridge. The fire seemed almost a secondary concern to that of the great height. He coughed as the fire sucked all of the air from around him, and tripped in his concern for Guinevere, forgetting to look where he was putting his own feet. The flames raged furiously, the roaring sound filling his ears as much as the water had done such a short time ago. Finally, dizzy and disorientated, he almost fell off the bridge at the other side, and gasped for breath. Suddenly he laughed, although the mirth was painful, coming from his dry throat.

"What's wrong?" Guinevere asked, failing to see the funny side. Methos shook his head, too tired to laugh, but too tired to stop.

"You - all of you," he choked, trying to work some moisture into his mouth, so that he could breathe and speak properly. He did not quite understand why it should seem so funny that his friends were blackened from head to toe; he just knew that he had to laugh. The tension demanded it.

"What next?" Sinking to the ground, MacLeod closed his eyes in exhaustion, no longer caring much for the fate of the Grail.

"I think that's it." Up ahead, Kronos was looking around the next corner. Methos limped unsteadily over, and stood next to him. Before him, the passageway spread out into a cavern, and candle light added to the glowing walls. A man stood in the cavern, dressed in a robe, his head bent over a book. He turned, as if feeling the presence of his guests, and then strode over to meet them. Methos was only half surprised to see that he wore a tattoo on his wrist; the same circular design as had been worn by Aquia, the keeper of Excalibur.

"Good morning," he said, as though he received visitors every day.

"Is it morning?" Guinevere asked, suddenly conscious of the passage of time.

"I've no idea, my lady," the old man confessed. "But I've been expecting you, and I had to use some form of greeting."

"You've been expecting us? Catching up with the others, MacLeod did not sound surprised as he spoke, but merely interested. "Who told you?"

"News has a tendency to spread itself about." The old man sounded dismissive of such trivialities. "The important thing is what am I supposed to do with you now that you're here?"

"Do with us?" Methos frowned. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, do I trust you enough to let you take the Grail? Are you people that I should be hiding it from, or people that I should be passing it on to?"

"We don't want the Grail." Speaking quickly, as much to convince himself as the old man, Methos stepped further into the cavern, glancing about him. "Our interest is just to make sure that somebody else doesn't get it."

"Ah, of course." The old man sighed. "But of course they all insist that they mean well. The Watchers have received many visitors over the years, and they've always assured us that they come in good faith, but when faced with that much power, they usually succumb in the end. So you see, I have to be very careful."

"The Watchers?" Methos asked, wondering at the plural.

"Those of us who have guarded the Grail over the centuries. There have been many of us." The old man smiled, his expression distant. "Joseph of Arimathea was the first, of course, and after him came many others. Our job is to ensure that the Grail doesn't fall into the hands of the wrong people. The very evil, or the very powerful." He frowned up at Methos. "What do you intend to do with it?"

"I told you; I just want to make sure that somebody else doesn't take it."

"Yes, yes. I know. What I mean is, how do you intend to stop him? I can't give it to you, you know. I'm sure you understand why? Certain people are rather too powerful to begin with."

"I understand." It was a little unnerving to think that people such as this man had been aware of the existence of the Immortals for centuries, and had been guarding the Grail from them for so long. "We could put up a good defence here, and fight him when he arrives."

"There'll be no fighting here." The old man sounded adamant. "Certainly not between you and Mordred; this is Holy Ground."

"Oh." It was odd, but Methos had not considered that one. It was only logical, really, that the Grail would be kept somewhere Holy. It complicated matters though.

"Is there some way that it can be taken away?" Guinevere suggested. "Hidden somewhere else perhaps?"

"The Grail stays here." The old man folded his arms. "Here it has been for centuries. Here it will remain."

"Where is it?" MacLeod was looking about. The old man laughed, seeming pleased with himself.

"Ah ha. It's clever isn't it? But it's here somewhere. It's all a part of the test. You have to guess where it is before I can give it to you." A frown suddenly danced across the old man's eyes. "Who are you?"

"Who?" Methos turned sharply. Behind them stood two men, the first of which held a bow, poised and ready to fire. Before anybody could react, he had released his arrow, and the old man fell, killed instantly. Without blinking, Kronos killed the two men, but it was to late to matter. He paused in the act of cleaning his sword.


"I know." Mordred and Morgan were coming. The four friends backed away, moving further into the cavern as the two evil Immortals appeared, flanked by Lancelot and the others. Mordred's expression was dark, but he smiled nonetheless.

"Well done, Arthur," he said, sounding genuinely complimentary. "I hadn't expected you to get here quite so quickly, but it seems that I'm going to win anyway."

"Not necessarily." Methos tired to think of some way out of this, but the situation was desperately awkward. He wasn't entirely sure of the rules, but he didn't think that he was allowed to fight Lancelot or Gawain in here, which complicated things further. "You know that this is Holy Ground?"

"I know." Mordred nodded. "Of course, my companions here aren't bothered by those petty rules." He smiled. "None of us will be, once the Grail is mine."

"It's not here," Guinevere told him defiantly. "Only that old man knew where it was, and your men killed him." Mordred laughed icily.

"Unfortunate, that, wasn't it. But it doesn't matter, you see. It's all in the map. The problem was in finding the right tunnel, but once we'd done that, the rest of the puzzle fitted into place perfectly. I know exactly where the Gail is."

"How fortunate." Speaking dryly, Methos gestured about. "So where is it?"

"Not so very far from where you're standing." Aware that Methos would not dare to attack him, Mordred strode briskly over, and brushed aside a display of candles. The sticks struck the rocky floor with a sharp ringing sound, and the flames flickered, and blinked out of existence. A small mosaic was revealed, its picture faded, but clearly displaying a chariot race. Mordred smiled down at it cheerfully.

"I miss the chariot races," he said softly. "I rode in one for the first time nearly a thousand years ago." He cast a sidelong, challenging glance at Guinevere. "And I was already more than a thousand years old." The queen made no reaction, and he smiled, returning his attention to the mosaic. Placing his thumbs squarely on the heads of the two charioteers, he pressed hard. A grating sound filled the cavern, and a section of the rock wall slid away, revealing a space beyond. A simple wooden cabinet stood there, closed up and dark.

"They didn't hide it very well, did they." Mordred sauntered over to the cabinet, but made no immediate attempt to open it. "For nearly five hundred years they've been guarding it, against the evil and the Immortal, and all that time it was sitting here, waiting to be taken. And yet nobody has ever taken it." He threw open the cabinet doors. "Until now."

If he had been expecting the world to end immediately, Methos was disappointed. All that happened was that a small, silver cup was revealed. It saw innocently on a shelf, its surface dulled from age and dust. Guinevere edged closer to Methos, her eyes fixed on the cup.

"Arthur, do something. You have to stop him - get to the cup first."

"I can't." In all of his life, Methos had never felt so hopelessly impotent. There was nothing at all that he could do. He could not touch Mordred; could not raise his sword or even his fists against him.

"What do you mean, you can't do anything?" Suddenly angry, Guinevere was no longer speaking quietly. "I stayed by you before, when Percieval called you a coward, but I won't let you stand there now, after all we've been through, and let Mordred take the Grail."

"Why Arthur." Mordred, who seemed to want to dwell in his victory for as long as possible, looked towards them with interest. "Do you mean that you haven't told your good lady wife all about yourself? I'm shocked. He can't fight me here, my lady, because it is forbidden for our kind to fight each other on Holy Ground. Nobody really knows why."

"Forbidden?! You're going to let some stupid rule stop you from fighting?" Guinevere drew her sword. "Well if you won't do anything, I will." She advanced with determination.

"No Guinevere!" Methos ran forward, but Guinevere pushed him away, her strength startling him. Mordred drew his own sword, his expression one of amusement and contempt.

"I don't remember any rule saying that I'm not allowed to kill a mortal here," he said airily, and laughed. Methos stood rigid for a moment, caught in indecision. He had no idea how he was going to save Guinevere when he could not fight Mordred. The only answer was that Mordred could also not fight him.

Almost losing his footing in his haste, Methos threw himself between the two warriors. Mordred's sword, raised to strike, jerked suddenly to a halt, and the Dark knight laughed harshly.

"Very clever, Arthur," he said gruffly. "Now kindly remove your wife."

"I'm not going to-" White hot with fury, Guinevere tried to protest, but Methos pushed her back towards MacLeod, his own eyes hot with rage.

"No." he said, the single syllable exploding from his mouth. "Don't interfere, Guinevere. You don't understand. You can't understand. Just leave it to me and Merlin, okay?"

"You and Merlin?" Guinevere was bitter. "You won't fight Mordred, and Merlin still hasn't decided what side he's on. We've lost, Arthur. Maybe you can't admit it yet, but if you won't do something soon, everything's lost."

"Not yet it's not." Methos guided her sword back into its sheath, and then turned back to Mordred. "What happens now?"

"I'm not sure." Mordred gestured to the knights gathered around Morgan. "I rather think I'll leave it to one of them to find out."

"Figures." Methos watched as Morgan scanned her throng, choosing a lamb to send to possible slaughter. She settled on Galahad, guessing that the young knight was a favourite of the king's. Looking almost ridiculously innocent and youthful, Galahad stepped forward. Methos tried to get in his way, but the young knight pushed past, his eyes empty. Stopping in front of the cabinet, he reached out, and took the cup in his hands.

At first it seemed as though nothing was going to happen. The anti-climax was a tangible thing. Nothing seemed to be beginning, nothing seemed to have changed. Then, suddenly, a shaft of clear, white light erupted from within the cup, reaching high up into the air, and vanishing through the roof. Galahad, his eyes open wide in wonder, stared deep into the light, and his mouth fell open into a broad, delighted smile. All at once, the cup fell from his hands, and he collapsed into a heap on the ground. The cup rolled away. Methos tried to go to Galahad, but found his way blocked by Lancelot and Gawain, their swords drawn. He could not fight them. Feeling utterly useless, he stepped back. Mordred bent over Galahad, and made a face.

"Quite dead," he said jauntily. "Well I suppose that would explain why nobody has taken the Grail before." He looked up at Methos. "What do you think? I suppose the answer is not to look into the light. Should we experiment with another of your knights, Arthur?"

"You do, and I'll kill you, Mordred, rules or no rules." Methos spoke heavily, his words coming from a heart that felt as though it were about to break. Mordred laughed.

"Fair enough." He looked down at the Grail on the floor. "Never let it be said that Mordred was afraid of a cup." He bent down and picked it up. Again there was the period of inactivity, before the shaft of light erupted from the cup again. The walls lit up as the light grew brighter, but Mordred kept his head turned away, his eyes shut tight. The floor seemed to shake, and the cup in his hands began to vibrate. The walls started to rock wildly, and loose boulders crashed down from the roof, bouncing about on the floor. Methos grabbed at Guinevere to drag her to shelter as several of the rocks found targets amongst Mordred's men. With a sudden explosive sound, the floor split open, and seemed to rise upwards, rushing at great speed towards the ceiling, which all at once ceased to exist. Then, in a moment, all was silent. Methos breathed deeply, and looked around. The floor had shattered into several rocky islands, splitting the questers into groups of two or three. They were no longer in a cave, but were on a hillside, in a stretch of country that Methos did not recognise. A fierce sun beat down, its merciless heat assaulting them all. A dry wind blew sand into his eyes.

Quietly at first, but then with increasing volume, Mordred began to laugh. He was standing some distance away, the cup still in his hands. The shaft of light had vanished, but Mordred himself seemed to have absorbed it in some way. It burned in his eyes and sparked from his mouth as he laughed. He spun the cup in his hands as he laughed, and the ground shook again as fire seemed to leap from within him. He held out a hand for Morgan, and she crossed to his side, negotiating the jagged and disrupted ground with little real difficulty. Their hands touched, and lightning sparked from their fingers. It was Morgan's turn to laugh, and she turned her wild dark eyes to look at Kronos.

"Well Merlin," she said, her voice ringing with triumph. "Will you join us now?"

Kronos, watching from nearby, straightened up. A fierce wind had begun to blow, and it tore through Morgan's hair. making it blow around her as if it had a life of its own. Black light surrounded her, and shone from her eyes. He shook his head, remembering Methos' words from earlier. This was the promise of freedom at too great a price. Morgan frowned, and thunder rolled about in the heavens. The ground shook again, and suddenly dark clouds filled the sky. In seconds rain was lashing the ground, turning the sand into mud, and obscuring the vision of the bystanders. Methos dashed the rain from his eyes. All about him, pictures were whirling together into a confused jumble that somehow made some crazy sense. Images from all through Time were massing into a jigsaw puzzle that filled his head. He could see tornadoes destroying forests, floods sinking towns. He could hear the screams of terrified mortals lost in the night, rising into a crescendo that assaulted his mind, driving at him, echoing on the edges off his sanity. Skulls, whitened and vacant, stared at him through desperate, empty eye-sockets, their teeth bared in wild and silent shouts of fear. And through it all he could hear the pounding of horses' hooves, could feel the warmth of a horse's breath on his face. He looked up. In front of him, riding out of the past, were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the same portent of doom that they had always been. One of them, the tall one dressed in white, was looking down at him, but where his face should have been there was just an anonymous skull.

Shaking his head desperately, trying to see through the illusions, Methos searched for Kronos. He could barely see through the lashing rain, but their eyes met at last. Through the storms, and through the eternity of hopelessness that seemed to stretch out between them, Kronos smiled, the familiar wicked grin that could chill the blood. He nodded.

As one, the two Immortals threw themselves forward. Somewhere nearby, Methos thought he heard Guinevere shout his name, but he could not be sure if it was Arthur that she was calling, or Methos. He could no longer tell her voice from the echoing screams that were still filling his mind. He focused on the Grail, still held in Mordred's hand, and tried not to let any other thought enter his head.

Mordred looked towards the two Immortals. He could see them coming, and he knew what was in their minds. Wherever they were now, the rules of combat did not apply, not anymore. He raised his hand, still linked with Morgan's, and together they pointed. A streak of hard red light burst from their hands and flashed out towards the ancient pair, rushing towards them. It split into two shards, each striking one of the Immortals in the chest. Methos staggered. It felt as though all of the pain of a Quickening was attacking him, with none of the pleasure that usually accompanied it. His feet slipped. He reached out blindly, and caught the outstretched hand of Kronos. Together they fought onwards. Mordred was shouting something, but his words were unintelligible; just shapeless roars above the wind. With a noise like the world exploding, the four Immortals met.

Morgan shouted, her voice trying to weave the magic spells that were her first line of defence. Mordred tried to grope for his sword, but hands were in his way. He had no way of knowing whose hands they were, for all was confused and blurred as they all fought together. He could feel the Grail slipping from his hands, and he struggled to retain hold of it, feeling somebody's fingers digging at his own, pulling at the smooth metal of the cup.

There was silence. With a bizarre sensation as though all of the air had been sucked from the world, as though Time itself had begun to move again, the world seemed to jolt itself back into place. There was a crushing feeling, and Methos was aware that he was back in the cave. The Grail lay a few paces away, and Mordred and Morgan were unmoving, prostrate on the floor on their backs. He tried to catch his breath, but it seemed to require too much energy to bother with right now. A voice in his head was telling him to reach for the Grail, to pick it up and use it himself, but something else stopped him. It might have been sense prevailing, or it might just have been his exhaustion.

Something moved nearby, and he looked up. Gingerly, MacLeod picked up the Grail, and put it back into the cabinet, remarkably untouched by events. He slammed the door shut, and the secret compartment closed itself. Ignoring the others, MacLeod replaced the candles on the mosaic, hiding it from view once again, then he relit them.

"Nice work Donald." Methos could hardly speak.

"No problem." MacLeod helped Methos up, and then assisted Kronos also. Guinevere was sitting nearby. Methos could see the direction of her gaze. The only sign that anything had ever happened in the cave was the collection of loose boulders that had fallen from the roof. They lay together, the crushed remains of a handful of Mordred's guards underneath. And not just Mordred's guards. It did not take much for Methos to realise that Lancelot and Gawain lay together beneath the rock fall. The exhausted king gathered his queen into his arms, folding her gently into an embrace.

"It's alright," he said softly. "I swear it's alright." She looked into his eyes, and he expected to see disbelief on her face, but instead she merely nodded.

"I believe you," she said, her voice faint. "I don't think I'll ever disbelieve you again." She pulled back, staring around the cave. Mordred and Morgan were breathing, but were deeply unconscious. Methos could only imagine the way that their energy must have been sapped when they had lost contact with the Grail. Those of the guards that had escaped the rock fall were too lost in confusion to be much of a threat, and Bedievere, Percieval and Owain were unconscious. Methos had a feeling that Morgan's hold over them had been broken.

"What do we do now?" Kronos asked, appearing at his shoulder. Methos shook his head.

"I don't know. Take the others back up to the surface I suppose. All of them; and destroy the map."

"But what's to stop Mordred coming back?" Guinevere asked. Methos shrugged.

"All we can do is to fill this place in," he said. "We can cause rock falls all along the tunnel, and make it impossible for anyone to get down here again. It's not fool proof, but it's all I can think of."

"It'll do." MacLeod wandered over to the body of the old man, and dragged it over to lie beside Galahad. "These two will guard the Grail until somebody else comes along." He gestured at Mordred and Morgan. "What about them?"

"I don't know." Methos did not feel inclined to kill them while they were helpless, and right now he was not sure if he could withstand a Quickening. He did not remember ever having felt so tired. "We take them with us I suppose." A malicious smile crossed his face. "Some of the way at least. We'll dump them in a tributary tunnel. Without the map it could take them weeks to find their way out. In the meantime, we'd better find some way of digging out Lancelot and Gawain." He scowled. "Then we'll have to see about getting over that blasted bridge again."


In the light of day, with the warmth of the sun shining on her face, Guinevere leaned back, staring up at the blue sky. It had taken them a week to reach Camelot, riding hard across the countryside that they had been scouring for so long. Home felt good, and so did the relaxed familiarity of the small lake where she and her husband had used to swim together, before the Quest had begun. Things would seem odd here, without Uther, but there were always new challenges to be faced at Camelot.

"Will Mordred be back?" she asked, her voice relaxed and content.

"Yes." Lying nearby, Methos rolled over until he was beside her, and could look deep into her eyes. "He'll be back. It'll take him a long time to find an army, but when he comes back he'll be looking for a show down."

"I had a feeling you'd say that." She took his hands. "There's so much that I don't know about you, isn't there Arthur. After all that we've been through together, sometimes I still feel that you're a stranger."

"I know." He smiled at her. "But I think it's time we changed all that. I want to tell you everything about myself."

"Everything?!" She smiled wickedly. "Do I really want to know?!" For a second, his eyes flickered, and he looked at the ground.

"Probably not, no, but I'm tired of secrets. I'm going to tell you the truth. I just want to warn you that not all of it will be easy to listen to."

"Try me." She settled herself back, and smiled up at him. He smiled back, and took a deep breath.

"Well it all begins a long, long time ago, in a city that no longer exists..."


(for now)