Leaving Kronos
by FF Calliope

 

This story contains some violence and lots of juicy sex described in loving detail. Therefore, if you are a minor (under 18 years of age) or are squeamish about sexual content, drop this like a hot potato. If you continue to read after this warning, don't blame me.

The Other Legalities: Highlander is the property of Gaumont Television and Rysher TPE, based on the character created by Gregory Widen and the underlying characters and concept of Davis/Panzer Productions, Inc. I just like playing in their sandbox; no copyright infringement is intended. Delphyne is my own creation.

Many thanks to Emma B. and to Jennifer for their beta-reading and to my writing partner, JakeStone. They all helped me to improve the story immensely. Any errors, grammatical or otherwise, are my own damned fault and none of theirs.

Unfamiliar terms and historical notes can be found at the end of the story.

Constructive criticism welcomed. Destructive criticism ignored. Send either, or just general comments, to my email address: morrigan@earthlink.net

"Leaving Kronos" is the second in a series of Methos and Delphyne stories

Timeline: circa 200 BCE


Ugh, what a mess. The bottom of the cooking pot was caked with scorched barley-meal, which smelled nearly as bad as it had tasted. Delphyne poured some water into the pot and set it aside to soak for a while before trying to clean it out. She hadn't done any of her own cooking for the past century, which meant that she was having to learn how all over again. Methos had taken one taste of his breakfast before dumping it on the floor and leaving to buy something edible at the market. She didn't blame him. She couldn't eat the stuff either.

She had been his slave for several weeks now, in this rented room in the city of Alexandria. He'd been on his way here when he rode through Naucratis, her home prior to becoming his slave. They were living in the Brucheum quarter, which contained the Museum and Library as well as the royal palace and the tomb of Alexander himself. His whole reason in coming was to see that library. She found this encouraging. A man with such a love of knowledge must want more than the life of a nomadic raider of villages. Not that he was inclined to talk to her about that sort of thing. If he'd ever bothered to ask, she could have told him about her education in Lampsacus over a hundred years ago, in the school of Epicurus. Methos was rather less than enlightened when it came to the role of women in society. It probably never occurred to him that she might be able to read.

He demanded a lot of her, was moody, abrupt, often withdrawn, but she didn't regret giving herself to him. Did he ever question why she stayed? He'd given her plenty of opportunities to run away - like today, leaving her alone in their room while he went to the market. She could be gone without a trace by the time he returned. He must know that she stayed of her own free will.

The sensation of the quickening came over her and out of habit she grabbed her sword from under the bed before going to the window to see who it was. This, more than anything else, proved that he trusted her - the fact that he'd let her keep her sword. She wondered about that sometimes, but he never offered any explanation.

When she had assured herself that it was indeed Methos returning and not some other immortal, she put the sword back under the bed. The door swung open, and before she could turn around to greet him, he had thrown an arm about her waist and swept her feet out from under her, taking her down to the floor. Delphyne gave a shriek of laughter. He was in a good mood today, in spite of the barley. Rolling her onto her back, he pinned her to the floor with his body and looked down at her, a wicked gleam in his eyes.

"I think I need to punish you for that breakfast," he said.

"How was I to know it would burn so fast? I haven't made barley- meal in at least a hundred years!"

"Why can't I just _once_ get a slave that can cook?"

He stood up and pointed a warning finger at her. She stayed where she was. She couldn't help but grin as he moved over to the storage chest in the corner and opened it up. Reaching inside, he drew out a leather flog. The long thin strands were soft, and well-oiled. Her eyes flashed at the sight of it.

Methos slapped it across his hand a few times, teasing her, and she felt a little thrill go down her spine. It was a game between them. Oh, the first time he'd tried to punish her with it had been serious enough, but she was not like his other slaves. She'd been a warrior for centuries, had learned how to make pain her friend. Laying into her with the flog had not exactly had the intended effect. The last thing he'd expected was that she would _like_ it.

Delphyne smiled slowly... anticipating.

"Roll over."

She rolled onto her belly, breasts flattening against the floor, and swept the thick mass of her hair away from her back. Her eyes followed his boots as he walked towards her. An instant later the leather strands brushed over the naked skin at the nape of her neck. They moved down, whispering over her clothing, and she held her breath. The flogger lifted away from her. She heard the fabric of his shirt rustle as he raised his arm.

The quickening washed over them both at the same time, warning that another approached. Methos dropped the flogger and snatched his sword up off of the table, and Delphyne rolled over to the bed and drew her own, coming to her feet with it in hand. He went to the window, standing to the side a bit to peer out without making himself a target. His features tightened.

"Who is it?"

"Kronos."

Her skin seemed to go cold, and she gripped her sword hard. She had known that this moment must eventually come. He had not broken ties with the Horsemen, had only left them for a while. Sooner or later they were bound to come for him. Now that they had, what should she do? What _could_ she do?

Methos left the window and put his sword on the table, then sat down. He looked calm, but she could sense the tension beneath the smooth mask of his face.

"He'll be coming in. Make something to drink."

There was nothing to do but follow his lead. Her sword went back to its hiding place under the bed, and then she opened up a flagon of wine and poured some into a pair of ceramic goblets. Delphyne set one in front of Methos and the other on the opposite side of the table for their guest. Not sure how to behave, she finally positioned herself behind him, a little to the side. An obedient slave, ready to do her Master's bidding.

Kronos pushed the door open and walked in without bothering to announce himself. He swaggered slightly, and she sensed a wildness in him, like a storm beating against the walls of a building. This wasn't a man who would come to Alexandria for its famous Library. No, he lived for conquest. So had Methos, once, but there was a difference between them. Behind Kronos' pale blue eyes there was no compassion, morality, humanity - call it whatever you liked, it didn't matter. He didn't have it, and without it he could never be anything other than what he was now. A murderer.

Seeing Delphyne, he stopped short and raised his eyebrows.

"Hello Kronos." Methos picked up his goblet and sipped the wine.

"Another immortal slave-girl, Methos?" The Horseman looked her over, front and back, like a merchant examining a purchase. She felt his eyes move down her long red-brown braid to the rounded softness of her hips, back up to note the defined muscles of her arms, her pale skin, her slender throat and fine-boned features. His black hair fell over his face as he tipped his head to one side. "And I thought you came here for the library."

"I did."

The tension between the two men set her teeth on edge. Delphyne had the urge to touch Methos, to stake a claim on him by placing her hand on his shoulder or his hair. She had come to think of him as hers, despite the fact that he was the Master and she the slave. Kronos was challenging her territory, and it was all she could do not to rise to the bait. He was being blatant about it, too. Could it be... could he feel threatened? He'd probably kill anyone who suggested that he was jealous of a slave, but it seemed to her the only logical explanation.

"Surely, brother, you learned your lesson with Cassandra? You made a pet of her, too, and remember how that turned out. It never pays to become ... attached." Kronos stared at Methos, and something about that stare made her wonder if he weren't insane. Even her Master had trouble meeting it. She could see that it cost him to do so, but his dark gaze held steady and hid whatever thoughts were behind it.

"I have forgotten nothing," Methos answered. There was much behind those simple words, she could feel it, like little whispers just out of hearing. As if she would be able to understand them if she could only get close enough.

Kronos grinned. He turned his attention back to Delphyne. One hand lifted to curl around her chin tightly enough to bruise, and his icy gaze froze her in place as his other hand reached up to squeeze her breast. She stayed still, not fighting him, but anger made her face flush red. He laughed.

"Not bad at all. You always did like to leave some spirit in your women, but at least this one knows her place better than Cassandra did. I think I'll have to try her out myself. After all, she must be truly exceptional to keep you away from your brothers for so long. What's her specialty? I can see it isn't cooking." He jerked his head towards the pot full of scorched barley and water.

Delphyne waited to see what her Master would do. Did he object to another man handling his property this way? Or would he command her to obey Kronos? Out of the corner of her eye she could see him stiffen, but he did not respond otherwise. He didn't like it, she was sure of that, but he wasn't going to stop it either.

Delphyne narrowed her eyes and studied her rival. She had not used her other senses again after that first day she and Methos met. There had been no need, and she was happier not opening herself up to the thoughts and feelings of others. It reminded her too much of the near-madness that had first come with her punishment, the horrible confusion of other minds filling and mingling with hers. The gods had accomplished their purpose all too well. Even now, when she could use that punishment to her benefit, it was too painful for her to do so unless the need were extreme. The thought of using those senses on Kronos gave her chills. She didn't want to know what went on in that one's mind.

Seeing that his brother wasn't going to answer, Kronos let go of her, dropped down into the other chair, and picked up his goblet. He looked perfectly at ease, yet the air around him seemed to vibrate. The man made her hand itch for her sword. Finally he tipped the goblet back and gulped his wine.

"I hope you've had your fill of soft city life, brother. Have the wonders of Alexandria's library taught you how to better plan our raids?" His tone was sarcastic.

"I've learned a thing or two."

"Good. I look forward to seeing just what you've learned. Meet us at the gates of the Necropolis in an hour. We ride." Kronos set the goblet down with a clatter and leaned across the table to slap Methos' shoulder.

Methos smiled tightly, and with a bark of laughter Kronos stood up. His eyes returned to Delphyne for a moment. The laughter didn't reach them; she doubted that it ever did. Then he simply left, as abruptly as he'd come.

His footsteps rang on the stones of the courtyard, and then in her mind, long after he had gone. She felt a strange emptiness inside. Methos just stared at the door in silence.

"A dangerous man," she ventured at last.

"He is my brother." Methos' voice had hardened. "And I am... Death."

He had not called himself that since he first challenged her. She believed that living with her had influenced him, had opened his heart at least a little. Perhaps, too, the scholars of Alexandria had had a civilizing effect. Gods knew he'd spent enough time among them, soaking up the knowledge they had to offer and discussing things the other Horsemen couldn't possibly care about. He had changed in their time together ... but apparently not enough. Not enough to leave Kronos and the others.

What should she do? She could run away. Let him go back to his "brothers" without her. But the thought of doing that hurt even worse than the thought of letting Kronos have her. When had it happened? she wondered, shocked. For, without realizing it, she had come to care for him. Perhaps even to love him.

Love. It was a precious and rare gift, to be able to love. For centuries she had lived without knowing this, just as Methos did now. Perhaps teaching him this lesson was one more step towards atoning for what she had once been. Letting Kronos use her would not be easy, but it would be a mere bucket of water compared to the oceans of pain she had caused others. Perhaps it was her fate to eventually experience all of the horrors she had once inflicted. The punishment that the gods had dealt out - that she would know the thoughts and emotions of others as if they were her own - might only have been the beginning.

So be it.

Placing a hand on his shoulder, she felt the muscles bunch up like gnarled wood. He was fighting a battle inside himself that he could not - or would not - allow her to be a part of, even though her life might depend on its outcome. He was fighting to decide what he was, and so far Death was winning.

"And what am I?" she asked quietly.

He didn't meet her eyes.

"Spoils of war." His voice thickened as he said it, as if he were trying to physically drive her away from him with the sound. It was intended to hurt, and did somewhat, but not as much as it would have if she'd believed he truly meant it.

You're not getting rid of me that easily, she thought.

"You didn't take me in a raid, Master. But if you wish to share me, I will obey." Strange. She had never wanted to obey a man before, had never desired to submit herself to anyone. But he was different. There was something about belonging to him, being completely owned by him, that gave her a sense of fulfillment she had not ever experienced before. Reaching up to brush the backs of her fingers along his sharp cheekbone, Delphyne tried to tell him with her touch that she forgave him for this. She still believed in him, and would stay, even if it meant paying this price.

A muscle in his face twitched.

"Kronos takes what he wants. He is not the kind of man that needs reasons or rules. He kills any who attempt to defy him."

"What kind of man are you?" She said it as gently as possible, but the words were still harsh. It took him a while to answer.

"A condemned one."

She could see that he was afraid. Did he fear the appearance of weakness? Perhaps he simply believed that Kronos would kill him if he didn't share her, or would kill her for coming between them. She realized suddenly that this would hurt him far more than Kronos or the others could possibly hurt her. Taking his face in her hands, she tried to make him look at her.

"Why condemned?"

"I can hardly remember a time without the Horsemen." His eyes met hers, bleak and hopeless, not really expecting her to understand. "I can't oppose him, Delphyne. I've seen what happens to people who do."

But you can, she thought. And you will, someday. If you're not ready, then I'll wait.

Quietly, she told him, "It's all right."

It didn't make him feel any better. In fact, he seemed angry, determined to get a reaction from her, as if he somehow had to make her hate him for this. He wanted her to fight. Her acquiescence only frustrated him further. "He... they... will not treat you as I have."

"I did not suppose that they would." She refused to help him put this wall between them. There was more to the relationship than that, and by the gods she'd make him see it. Nor was she willing to believe that he didn't care what the others did to her. As long as it mattered to him, as long as _she_ mattered to him, she was willing endure this, even though he obviously wanted her to condemn him for it. Placing the problem squarely where it belonged, she asked, "What do you want me to do?"

Methos looked away and shrugged his shoulders. Discussion over. He was drawing away from her, trying to drive her away from him. Was it really only a few moments ago that he'd pinned her to the floor and teased her, making her laugh? She wondered whether they would ever be that happy together again.

Methos stood abruptly. "Time to go."

Her hands slid away from his face. She would have put it off a few minutes longer if she could, would have tried to reason with him one more time, but he wasn't giving her the chance. Delphyne nodded her head slowly. Perhaps he was right. There wasn't really anything left for her to say. He probably knew it already anyway.

"Should I bring my sword?"

"Yes."

Delphyne strapped on her sheath and slid the blade into it so that it hung down her back, then threw on a chlamys1 over top. Methos stood at the door, watching her. She'd learned to look for the minute changes in his face that signalled his mood, and studying him now she saw a faint line on either side of his mouth and a crease at the corners of his eyes. On someone else, at some other moment, it might have been the beginnings of a smile, but on him at this moment it was a mask that was wearing thin.

When she was ready he said, "You go ahead."

She was really going to do this. Give herself to Kronos, to all of them if that's what it took. The prospect was intimidating, even to a woman who'd survived the things she had. Just letting Kronos touch her had been difficult, how much worse would it be when she had to please him? She could hardly expect the other Horsemen to be any better. Silently she prayed to the gods. If this is what you want me to do, give me the strength to get through it. Aphrodite, fill my heart with enough love to overcome all obstacles. Zeus, grant me strength to accept your judgement. Hermes, guide me on this dark and treacherous path.

"All right." She started to walk past him, but stopped and pulled him to her instead for a hard, deep kiss. It was the closest she would come to begging him not to let her do this. One last attempt to get through to him where words had failed. His response, though, was distant and cool, as if he had already given her up. With a shudder she broke away and walked briskly out the door, determined to get it over with. His gaze felt like a knife stabbing into her back.

He let her get to the end of the courtyard before calling out.

"Stop."

She thought for a moment she'd imagined his voice. Her steps faltered, then halted. Keeping her back to him, she waited to see whether he'd really spoken or not. Either way, she didn't want him to see the tears welling up in her eyes.

The sound of his boots on the stones echoed through the courtyard as he came to stand just behind her. Delphyne closed her eyes and tasted the salt of the first tear when it spilled over to trail down her cheek and into the corner of her mouth. Say something, she pleaded silently. Anything.

Methos stopped close enough that her hair stirred when he let out a long, slow breath. She could feel something shifting, changing inside him, a decision made that brought both resignation and a new turmoil. He projected it so powerfully that it overwhelmed the barriers she kept in place to protect her from the thoughts and emotions of other people.

"No," he said. The air around him seemed to catch fire with the emotion behind those softly spoken words. "Never again."

Delphyne closed her eyes, and relief made her legs weak.

Methos didn't bother to explain himself, didn't even reach out the few inches between them to touch her. He simply walked around her and headed down the street, expecting her to follow.

"We must go quickly, and leave everything behind. Come."


He'd been keeping his horse at a nearby stable, ready to depart at a moment's notice. Perhaps he had anticipated something like this. As they rode out he looked back only once, and she could see in his eyes that he was leaving more behind than just the city. Much more. Delphyne longed to comfort him, but something in his manner held her back.

"From this day forward, I am Aidan and you are Caitrin. We must travel very far, and very fast. There is a place in the north that I once visited. We'll go there, if it still exists."

She didn't answer. There wasn't anything to say.

The day bled into night and back into day again, and again, and again, and still they rode. He avoided people as much as possible, going around villages and taking less-travelled paths. When they camped it was in secluded places, and only long enough to rest before going on. The country-side changed. She grew used to the rhythm of the animal beneath her, until it seemed that there had never been anything else. Only the horse, the man, and the wind in her face.

The first time they made camp, Delphyne made a bed with soft grasses, laying her chlamys over top. Sexually, they had been good together from the very start, and she hoped now that it would break through the invisible barrier he had thrown between them. Had she thought that getting him away from the Horsemen would bring them closer together? She couldn't have been more wrong.

Methos pretended not to see what she was doing. Instead, he propped himself up against a rock and closed his eyes. She wanted to go to him, to take his hand and lead him to the bed, but she didn't think he would allow it. Perhaps she was just afraid to try, afraid that behind that barrier was a hatred that would drive her away from him forever.

If only he would do something, _say_ something! Delphyne thought about using her curse to learn what was going on inside of him. It wouldn't be the first time she had looked into his mind. But that was different. Before, she hadn't known him. Unable to read his face, intuition had told her that there was more beneath the surface, and without even consciously intending it she had used that other sense to learn what manner of Immortal was challenging her. If she had thought before doing it, she probably wouldn't have been able to even then. She was simply too afraid that if she let those protective shields down, she would not be able to raise them back up again. Oh, she knew that this wasn't true, but logic had no power over the memories of that time in her life. Just thinking about it caused startlingly vivid images to flash before her eyes.

She and her warrior-husband Nemed had travelled to Delphi, to ask the Oracle if they would be successful in their conquest of Iberia. Their tribes had successfully taken over Gaul and were looking for new challenges, new battles. The omens read by the Druids were unclear, and so when they heard about the Delphic Oracle they decided to go there for advice.

They both went into the cave where the Oracle sat upon her tripod. Torchlight battled with the steam and fumes of the volcano3 which drifted around the woman like veils that had somehow come to life. In badly pronounced Greek they asked their question, and she replied.

"You," she said, staring at Nemed, "will succeed but you will lose what matters to you most." Her wild eyes turned to Delphyne, known then as Nemain. "For you there is hope, but first there must be justice. If you survive the punishment that the gods have decreed..."

The rest of the words were a blur to her, for even as the prophecy was spoken the punishment was meted out. For eleven hundred years Nemain had lived by the sword, and now the anguish of eleven hundred years of victims was hers, all at once. A multitude of voices in her head, crying out for mercy until it was her voice, screaming, pleading for death, grovelling before the gods, but they showed no more mercy than she herself had shown to others. There would be nothing as simple as death for her.

The priests of Apollo had dragged her, a madwoman, to his temple, and she never knew how long Nemed waited before giving her up as lost. How many years had she been there, trapped among the ghosts of her past? A hundred, at least. They thought that the gods kept her alive and unaging as part of her punishment, not knowing what she truly was. Rumours eventually began that she had been the original Oracle, before the coming of Apollo, and that she suffered his wrath for having served the goddess who had been here before him. Thus they gave her the name Delphyne2.

A hundred years of torment. It had taken that long to break her. Then the day came when, at last, she cried out, "I am guilty!" and accepted that her punishment was just. It was what they had wanted, those ghosts of her victims. Nothing else could have laid them to rest. Their voices fell silent and their pain left her.

Delphyne was freed from the past, but the present was another matter. She still heard the thoughts, felt the emotions, of anyone who came near her. It was disorienting, difficult to differentiate her own self from all of those others intruding upon her consciousness. It was the gods' way of making sure that she never returned to what she had been before, for how could she kill if it meant feeling the agony of that death as if it were her own?

The woman who was Oracle then heard of the change in her and came to see for herself what had happened. Delphyne told her everything, and the Oracle looked deeply into her eyes.

"You must put your punishment to use. Serve the gods, and when they are satisfied they will help you to live with what you have become."

"How can I serve them?"

"You will be the next Oracle."

So she took her place in the long line of prophetesses to serve the gods at Delphi, and over the long years of her service there she gradually came to recognize which thoughts were her own and which belonged to someone else. Delphyne learned who she was all over again, and it was not the same person she had been before. The gods rewarded her with small bits and pieces of sanity until at last... at last... she was able to close herself off altogether from the intrusion of other minds.

That was when she knew her time as the Oracle was at an end. Another priestess took her place, and she left Delphi determined to spend the rest of her life atoning for the things she had done.

Now, looking at Methos, she considered for the first time intentionally dropping the shields which protected her mind, her very sanity, and she couldn't do it. The fear was too great. Perhaps one day it would be far enough in the past for her to find the courage to open herself again, but for now she could not consciously do so. Those barriers had come down for him of their own accord that first time, and that was astonishing enough in and of itself.

She would just have to find another way.

He rarely spoke to her from that point on. As they moved north the climate turned colder, mirroring his manner. He needed time, she told herself, time to adjust. When he was ready he would talk about it. She had to be patient, to give him room, no matter how long it took. No matter how much it hurt.

Delphyne had spent the last four hundred years or so around the Mediterranean, in Greece or Hellenized areas. The places she had known before that time were different now. Once they'd left Thrace and Scythia behind she had trouble keeping track of where they were. Occasionally a mountain range or a river looked familiar, but cities she had known were now either too different to recognize or gone altogether. The people of her youth, the Keltoi, had changed too. She scarcely understood the language the few times they stopped in a town for supplies. But then, the attack on Delphi some eighty or ninety years ago should have warned her that things were different, for the Keltoi and the Greeks had been allies when she first went to Delphi4. It had been over three hundred years since that fateful journey. She should have known that nothing stayed the same for that long.

Their direction shifted westward for a while, and then to the north again, until she gave up on trying to guess where they were. It was the middle of winter when they came to the ocean. She'd been smelling the salt in the air for days, and at last there it was in all its terrible splendor. This was not the jewel-like blue of the Aegean with its sun-drenched islands, nor the friendly waters of the Euxine, or Black, Sea. It had been many centuries since she'd set foot on this cold and merciless coast.

Methos brought the horse to a stop atop a cliff overlooking a beach5. He jumped down and walked to the edge, a lone pillar of resolve defying the angry grey sky and white-capped waves. She watched for a moment, then at last slid to the ground and followed.

"We have to cross that," he told her.

"Not an easy journey." She looked at him, struggling with herself. So far she had not once asked him why he was so distant. These were the first words he'd spoken to her in days, and she wanted to think that he was trying open up again, to at last bridge the gap between them. But what if he wasn't? Did she want to take the risk of reaching out, only to have her fingers bitten? Delphyne debated what to do, and finally she simply said, "Regrets?"

He turned to put his arms around her waist and looked down at her, the wind whipping his dark hair about his head.

"Not today."

For a moment she thought she'd been right, that he was finally ready to let her in. She leaned against him, wanting to laugh and cry at the same time. It had been so long since he'd held her. She had missed the feel of his body, the strength of his arms, the smell and taste of his skin. Her eyes closed and for one sweet moment she had all of those things back. But he pulled away almost immediately, leaving her alone once more, and returned to the horse.

"Come. We have work to do."

He couldn't help but see the pain on her face, though he pretended not to. Why was he doing this? In that one look, that brief touch, she'd glimpsed his desire for her, and though the barrier had gone back up so quickly, she no longer doubted that he still cared. It gave her small hope, but that was better than none at all. Still, her disappointment was a hard lump in her throat as she answered, "Yes, Master."


They took lodgings in a small fishing village, and he went to work among the local men, mending nets and repairing boats. She served ale in the public room, more to have something to do with herself than for any other reason. He came to bed late and left early, not touching her, not speaking, reeking of fish. She looked after his needs. Saw that his clothes were washed, that there was always a warm meal waiting for him. The tension grew between them, and sometimes she was sure that it bothered him as much as it did her. Most of the time, though, she was sure of nothing at all.

Every day when he left for the docks she wondered if he would return. Every day she wondered if she could bear to stay. Did he hate her? Did he blame her for taking him away from his friends, his life? Stubbornly, she refused to give up. Until he actually told her to go she would stay with him.

The fishermen knew of the lands he spoke of on the other side of the sea, and directed him to some traders who travelled there to exchange goods with the natives. She could tell that he was worried about staying too long in one place. Kronos was the sort of man who would labor long and hard to avenge a betrayal. The sooner they left, the better. It wasn't the best season for travelling in these waters, and at first the traders refused to attempt it, but he persisted. In the end, she didn't know how he managed to convince them, but whether through threats or through gold it was arranged. The captain agreed to take a ship over to Aberdeen to trade for cattle two months earlier than usual, with the stipulation that they work for their passage in the place of some of his regular hands who flatly refused to make the trip.

Delphyne packed up their meager belongings and they shoved off on a frigidly cold day well before the spring equinox. The vessel seemed to her to bob like a toy on the rough ocean. The captain, she soon discovered, did not think that a woman could do a sailor's work. He was expecting her to pay for her passage on her back. When she protested, he took the matter up with "Aidan", thinking the other man would take his side. That was a mistake. He was given a new scar for his trouble, and a warning was issued to all of the sailors that any who bothered her would be flogged within an inch of their lives. After that Delphyne worked along with the men, trimming sails and occasionally pulling an oar, and she made sure to work twice as hard as any of them so that none would have reason to complain.

The journey was gruelling. She welcomed the hardship, for it kept her from thinking too much. As the captain had predicted, the weather was horrific. Storms tossed the ship around, and the men prayed and made offerings to Thor and other deities. They lost one man overboard. Delphyne suspected that he'd been sacrificed to the ocean in return for their safe passage, but she could not prove it and so said nothing. If it were true, it had been his choice, for no one was nearby who could have pushed him. The man disappeared from sight almost immediately, swallowed whole by the cold grey waters. Thank the gods he left no wife or child behind. Thank the gods he was not an immortal.

She knew now where they were going. She had been there before, but did not tell Methos this. It was doubtful that anyone would recognize her after so long. All of those she had known would be dead and buried alongside their great-great-great grandchildren. It was possible, she supposed, that Nemed was still alive, but the chances of her meeting him were so small that she gave it little thought. After all, it had been 350 years.

The skies cleared and land was sighted. By the next day they were dragging a landing-boat ashore through the surf, up onto a beach littered with driftwood and stones. Gulls cried, barely audible over the thunderous crashing of the waves. Delphyne got out, her legs wobbly from having been at sea for so long, and when the solid earth was beneath her once again she dropped to her knees and bent down to kiss it. The thought of being lost at sea, dying over and over but always coming back to life, had terrified her more than she was willing to admit.

Methos took her arm and pulled her to her feet, turning her to look at the land. It was as green as an emerald. The sun shone down and the breeze seemed to whisper of spring.

"Did you think it would always be frozen?" he asked. He grinned, and she realized that she had not seen him do so since the day they left Alexandria. Perhaps he, too, was thawing.

Delphyne shook her head and answered, "Not the weather."

Either he did not understand what she meant or he chose to ignore it. Instead he said, "In the summer it is breathtaking. You will like it here."

"Will you?"

His grin faded, and he was silent so long that she thought he wasn't going to answer at all. When he spoke his voice was cold once again.

"Does it matter? I'm not going back."

"You hate me, don't you," she accused, trying to get him to speak, to provoke him into telling her what was going on in his mind. If only he would crack the door open she knew that she could push her way inside. It was the smooth wall of indifference that defeated her utterly. She would have known what to do with anything except this complete withdrawal.

"No." He said it softly, so low that she almost missed it altogether. He seemed as brittle as glass, and she imagined that if he spoke louder he would shatter into a thousand shards that the wind would blow into her like tiny spears. They couldn't keep going this way. Not forever.


Leaving "Aidan" and "Caitrin" on the shore, the ship sailed on up the River Dee to dock at the town of Aberdeen. When the captain and crew got back to their homes they would spread word that the two strangers had fallen overboard during a storm. If Kronos managed to track them that far, his trail would end there, or so they hoped.

With no horses, few possessions, and only a handful of silver and gold coins, the two immortals walked to one of the small settlements near Aberdeen. On the way, Methos renamed them yet again. He would be Niall, and Delphyne would be Deirdre6. An ironic choice, she thought, to name her after a woman whose great beauty resulted in nothing but death and sorrow. Did he know the story? She hoped that it was coincidence and not a cruel joke of some sort.

The little town wasn't much to look at. Its streets were muddy and the dwellings primitive, made of wood and thatch, but it was as good a place as any to settle for a while. There was a single hostel at the center of the town, and though the local people obviously distrusted strangers, hospitality was a sacred tradition that none cared to break. It was assumed that they were husband and wife until Methos made it clear that she was his thrall, captured in battle. He was told that the local blacksmith was skilled at fitting iron collars to the necks of thralls and would charge him a fair price for it. When he said he'd consider it Delphyne gave him an evil look, and could have sworn that he was laughing at her even though his expression hardly changed.

They were given a room, and ate in the main hall with the other guests and townspeople who came to drink or to exchange news. Methos made a point of having her serve him in front of everyone. She sat at his feet like a dog and ate the table-scraps he chose to feed her, and if his mug was empty she got up and refilled it immediately. Even when he'd first enslaved her he hadn't treated her this way. Perhaps, she thought, he was punishing her. Or perhaps he had truly stopped caring for her at all, to the point that he no longer saw her as a person, but only as a slave, a piece of property who required food and clothing. It wouldn't be so bad if she could lean her head upon his knee, or curl an arm around his leg, but he had avoided touching her for so long now that she was sure he would only push her away if she tried.

Methos talked with the other men, particularly the ones dressed as warriors, asking for news of who might wish to hire a man good with a sword. He was told to seek out the local cheiftain, who would be happy to have another strong arm among his warriors, if he could prove himself worthy. A few of them commented on how skinny he was, perhaps hoping to bait him into a brawl, but he only laughed and agreed that he was thin.

"That's a comely lass you have there," one man said, motioning towards Delphyne.

Methos fell silent. The other men looked her over as well, some of them nodding agreement, a few grinning. Delphyne tensed.

"Aye," a second spoke up. "You've no need to bleed for another man's land when you could make plenty selling her favors."

"Oh?" Methos asked mildly. "How much is she worth an hour?"

Delphyne jerked her head up to stare at him, but he ignored her. His face was a mask, as always. Surely he wouldn't do such a thing... would he?

The warriors debated what she was worth, speaking in terms of barter mostly - a hen, or a lamb, maybe a few pounds of beef, a bushel of apples; a whole evening might be worth a new cloak, if she did something besides just lay there. Methos listened with a hint of a smile touching his lips. At last he held up a hand for silence.

"Beat her in a fair fight," he said, "and she's free."

They burst into laughter at that. After all, she had been sitting at his feet like a pet all night. She hardly looked menacing. She laughed too, relieved.

"Her? Ye must be joking, man!"

"She's even thinner than you are!"

He leaned over and said softly in her ear, "Show them your sword."

Delphyne stood and reached behind her shoulders, under her loose-fitting tunic, to draw her short-sword. The room grew quiet as she flipped it around casually in her hand, letting them see that she knew how to handle the thing. She couldn't help but grin at the looks on their faces.

"You beat her, she's yours for a night," he told them. "She beats you, the blacksmith sells me two new collars. Any takers?"

No one said anything, and the silence grew tense. Finally, he gave her a slap on the behind and told her to bring a round of ale for everyone. Delphyne sheathed her sword and obeyed him, and though some of them still followed her with their eyes, there was no more talk of loaning her out by the hour.

For those few moments she felt close to him again. He had not forgotten who and what she was. But later, when they went up to their room, he was colder than ever. Taking off only his boots, he stretched out on the bed with his back towards the center of it and, closed his eyes, ignoring her. Delphyne stood looking at him for a long time. He wasn't asleep. It was a small bed, much smaller than any they'd shared before. In a bed like that, you had to hold onto each other or else one of you would end up on the floor. He wasn't going to hold her. He certainly wasn't going to let her hold him. Finally, she took one of the pillows and made a pallet on the floor using their heavy cloaks.

"What are you doing?" he asked gruffly.

"There isn't room for us both."

A shrug. "Have it your way."

The bed creaked as he changed position, taking up the space she'd left empty. She didn't realize until then that she'd been hoping he would argue with her. Delphyne blew out the lamp and curled up among the cloaks, and her pillow was damp before she finally drifted off to sleep.

Methos went to see the cheiftain the next day. While he was gone, Delphyne got a bucket of water and an old rag from the hostel's owner. One of the things she missed about Greece was bathing every day. It felt good to scrub her skin, to wash her long hair, and by the time she was done the water in the bucket was a nasty greyish brown. She dumped it out refilled the bucket. Now that she was clean, she couldn't stand the thought of putting her dirty clothes back on. She washed them thoroughly, then hung them from a peg to dry while she carefully combed the tangles out of her long hair and dried it in the patch of sunlight that came in through the window.

She hadn't rested well on the cold wooden floor. Laying naked on the bed with her hair fanning out and trailing off one end, she dozed and gradually drifted into a deep sleep.

A sound woke her, and she opened her eyes to see that her Master had returned. He stood in the doorway, so still that he might have been made of stone, and the look in his eyes burned her like a branding iron. Delphyne held her breath. Slowly, she raised up onto one arm and held out her hand to him.

Methos clenched his jaw so tightly that she saw the muscles move, and then he grabbed her tunic from where it hung and tossed it at her.

"Get dressed and come downstairs. You'll serve me again tonight."

It would have hurt less if he had run her through with his sword. Delphyne felt a flash of pure rage, and she threw the garment back at him, screaming, "Curse you! Why are you doing this?"

Methos took a step forward, and his hand rose as if he would strike her... then he turned away and strode from the room, slamming the door shut. She was left to stew in her frustration.

Patient understanding had not broken through his wall of silence. Asking him had not worked, screaming at him had little result - what more could she do? For the first time she began to consider leaving. But he had not told her to go. If he wanted her to leave, he had only to say it. Why didn't he?

It was a puzzle she could not solve. Putting on the tunic, she went downstairs to serve him.


The local cheiftain must have been satisfied with his skills. Methos was given a small, round wooden hut on the edge of the village, and enough wages to buy food and ale for them both, plus a little more. Delphyne kept the hut clean for him and looked after his needs. Her cooking was getting better, but even when it was bad he didn't say anything. He never said anything. The silence between them grew more opppressive until she thought it would suffocate her altogether.

Everything around her seemed grey and colorless. The days were all the same, and she moved through them as though she had lead weights attached to her limbs. Normally she was quick to make friends, but Delphyne couldn't bring herself to make the effort. It just didn't matter. Nothing did. She stayed with Methos not because she wanted to be with him, but because there was nothing else important enough to stir her out of her lethargy. On some level, she knew that she still loved him. She just wasn't able to feel it. As if sensing the change in her, Methos spent more and more time away from the hut, and whenever he returned to find her there his face would tighten painfully, but still he did not speak.

Their silent co-existence seemed to have gone on forever when one night a strange noise woke her. Delphyne looked around for its source, only to find Methos sitting on the edge of their bed, his body shaking. The sound came from him. With a shock, she realized that he was quietly sobbing.

"Methos?"

Alarmed, she sat up and reached out to touch his back. He stiffened, then turned quickly and pulled her into his arms, holding her so hard that it hurt.

"Why won't you go away? I don't touch you, hardly speak to you. Why don't you leave?" The words sounded as though they were being ripped out of him by the roots.

His pain battered at the shields in her mind until she felt bruised. Utterly unprepared for this, she was too disoriented to think properly. Delphyne wrapped her arms around him and answered with the first thing that came to her.

"I don't want to."

"Can't you see that I am not worthy of your love? I am a monster! _Hate_ me, damn you!"

She was stunned.

So this was what he had been keeping inside for so long. This was why he had been so distant. It wasn't her that he hated, it was himself. Delphyne's eyes filled with tears and she held him with all her might. How bewildering it must be to hate yourself and to know that you are loved, she realized. He had needed her to hate him, to confirm that he was right about himself. Every moment of cruelty, every rejection large and small had been designed to make her despise him, until at last the brittle shell of his self-loathing cracked open and exposed him to her.

"You're not a monster!" she protested. "Not any more."

He crushed her to him as though holding onto a lifeline, and his face burrowed into her hair.

"Hate me," he pleaded. "Hate me."

"I can't."

"Why?" His voice broke. He saw no value in himself, so of course he did not understand that she could. But he wanted to. He wanted to believe that there was hope for him, that there was redemption, and having failed to convince her of his worthlessness he desperately needed for her to convince him of his worth.

"Because there is so much in you. There is nothing I want more than to be with you while you become what I know you can." She spoke fiercely, trying by force of will to make him believe.

Words spilled from him in a torrent, barely comprehensible. "I thought that up here, so far away, the images would go and leave me in peace. The dreams. But they don't. They don't."

How well she knew the images he spoke of, the faces of the dead in nightmares both sleeping and waking. They could drive a person mad.

"Tell me about them," she urged. Perhaps by listening she could help him find some peace.

He was silent for a long moment. She didn't push, just held him and gave what comfort he would accept. Gradually his grip on her eased enough that it was no longer painful, and the heart-wrenching sobs quieted.

"Some day I'll tell you. Not now."

Calming down, he began to stroke her hair. She almost thought she was hallucinating. It had been so long, so damned long. She was starved for his touch.

"I wanted you to hate me," he told her. It was obviously difficult for him to speak of these things, but he forced himself to go on. "I find instead that I have grown to... to care about you."

A sob welled up in her throat.

"I was so afraid," she whispered. Her body shook, and the deep sadness that had paralyzed her for weeks at last gave way to cleansing tears.

"Of what?"

"That you would cast me aside. I couldn't understand why you didn't just tell me to go, if you hated me so much. I thought that you blamed me for - for this, for everything."

Methos rocked her gently back and forth. Burying her face in his chest, she inhaled the warm musky scent of his body, felt the steady beating of his heart, and he let her cry herself out, just holding her until she had finished.

"It's not your fault. Something happened to me. I took the head of a boy, an immortal in the body of a youth, and I was changed."

"I have heard of such things. That day we met, when you could have taken my head, I hoped that my quickening might do that for you. Until you took me to holy ground, I thought for certain you would kill me."

"I almost did anyway. I was insane, or nearly so."

"You were walking on the edge of a sword, trying to balance without cutting your feet."

Methos pressed his lips to her hair, and then gently eased her down onto the bed, untangling her arms from around him. Now that he had finally let down the barriers between them, she could not get enough of touching him. Her hands moved, fingers rediscovering the shape of his mouth, the pulse at his throat, the hard muscles of his arms.

Methos shifted to hover over her and smoothed her hair back from her face. His tongue caressed her skin in gentle strokes as he licked away all of the tears. He saved her mouth for last and kissed her briefly, then slipped out of her reach and got to his feet.

"Stand up."

She obeyed, wondering what he had in mind.

"Let me see your body. It has been too long."

Her eyes closed for a moment as she savored the knowledge that he had missed her as much as she had him. Then she slipped out of her well-worn rags and stood naked in the shadows and moonlight. She was thinner than before, her ribs standing out, but she was strong and healthy and when he lightly touched one of her nipples she responded to him with the same pure sensuality that she always had. Her nippled stiffened and rose as if reaching for more.

"The desire is strong when it has been made to wait, isn't it?"

She nodded, need clawing at her from deep within, and whispered "Yes."

Looking into her eyes, he removed his own clothes. Anticipation brought goose-bumps to her skin. Unlike her, he seemed untouched by their journeys. He was as she remembered, lean and powerful, muscles clearly defined. A work of art. Without even realizing that she did so, she moved closer to him.

"Turn around," he commanded.

Moonlight danced over her skin, illuminating a breast, a hip, as she obeyed. He moved in close behind her. She felt the heat rising up from his body, and the tap of his erection as it bumped against her ass. Delphyne leaned into him, and his chest and belly were hot upon her back and shoulders. Calloused hands moved up her sides and around to cover her breasts. Her back arched instinctively and a deep breath expanded her chest, pressing them into his palms, nipples already hard and aching. His breath rasped in her ear.

She wanted to be held, but he needed something else. Releasing her breasts, he slid one hand around to the small of her back and the other up to grip a handful of hair at the nape of her neck. Almost rough now, he pushed her down, bending her at the waist. She had to move her feet apart for balance. His left hand stayed clenched in her hair while his right smoothed over her behind and between her thighs, fingers caressing, making her moan. With a tug he pulled her head up so that her back arched. Controlling her. Arousing her. The muscles of her thighs tensed and her hips moved slowly in response.

His fingers left her slippery and swollen with need. An instant later she felt the tip of his cock against the long-neglected lips of her sex, and she pressed towards him, but his hand went to her back again, stopping her.

"Please..." she breathed.

"Not yet."

Her desire for him was a physical ache, a bottomless pit that begged to be filled. It was all she could do to obey him. He pulled hard on her hair and pushed down on her lower back until she could go no further, her ass raised high, throat stretched out, spine curved to its limit. He was making her open to him, taking control of her body. Making her his once again. Completely.

"Grab your knees," he commanded. "It will help you balance."

She did as she was told. Her hands clenched around her knees, arms straight, elbows locked, and he was right, it did help. He steadied her, using her hair like a handle. Holding her still. The tip of his cock brushed over moist flesh, teasing her until she was trembling, on the verge of begging. Delphyne closed her eyes against the intensity of her desire, and tears squeezed out of the corners to wet her lashes.

Without warning, his hips thrust forward and he pulled her back. He filled her all at once. She gave a little cry, and he growled out one word.

"Yes!"

It was a shock to have him inside her. She'd been empty so very long. He seemed to understand, for his hand stroked soothingly up and down her back, and he held her impaled on him for a long moment, letting her adjust. Then he dragged her up by the hair, forcing her to release her knees. The motion shifted the angle of his cock, and pleasure slammed into her like a fist, making her gasp for breath. His long arms snaked around her body, one over her belly, the other over her chest, pulling her tight against him.

A profound sense of belonging welled up from deep inside. Delphyne raised her arms to cover his and let her head fall back onto his shoulder, hugging that feeling to herself. He wasn't content to just hold her, though. Half-lifting her, he took a few short steps forward, then fell with her onto the bed, laying on top and trapping her with the weight of his body. His teeth tugged at her earlobe.

With a hiss of pleasure, she shifted beneath him in a slow, sensual movement. His grip eased just enough so that he could begin to move slowly inside her, and she felt his hard shaft slide along the walls of her sex, in and out.

"Oh gods, I've missed you," she whispered.

Methos pulled his arms out from under her and, lifting her hips so that he stayed inside, he eased back into a kneeling position. She immediately missed the weight of his body, the closeness of being held. Keeping her shoulders and face pressed down into the mattress, she bent her knees and got them beneath her. Her hands clutched at the blankets as she denied her own need in order to give him his.

Strong hands tightened on her hips, fingers digging into her flesh. Without warning, he pulled out and slammed back into her with an audible thud.

She couldn't help but cry out. It felt as if she had been dead, and had now come back to life. She was dripping wet for him after so many months without his touch. Curling her toes, she writhed against him and the pleasure was enough to make her dizzy.

His back arched, and she heard him growl. Again, he slid out and shoved back in, his hands pulling hard on her hips to increase the force of it. He held her there for several seconds, and then did it again. She could feel him trembling with tension. He held her still, his cock buried to the hilt, and then repeated the violent thrust. It shook her entire body, making her breasts sway. There was no tenderness, no finesse, only need like a cracking whip driving him on. The need to brand her as his, to imprint his ownership on her body and soul.

Whatever control he had been exercising disintegrated. His thrusts came closer together, gathering speed as the pure animal passion of his own abstinence overtook him. She could hear him grunt with each stroke.

"I need you." His voice was gutteral, almost unrecognizable. He was ramming into her fast and hard, the passion bordering on madness, and it was giving her more pain than pleasure but she didn't care. She understood the source of that passion and treasured it.

Gasping out the words, she answered, "I'm yours."

He was rattling the whole bed now, every thrust like a blow, and her muscles bunched up as she strained to absorb each one. As suddenly as he had begun he stopped, screaming out his release.

His cock pulsed and jumped inside her, and she whispered "Oh gods yes" as he filled her to overflowing. Her smile was almost feral. His hips moved again, gently this time, riding out the orgasm. Slowly, he came to a halt and just stayed there inside her, silent and still while the knots in her shoulders and back unwound.

At last she turned her head to look over her shoulder at him. He met her eyes, tears running down his cheeks. Her heart twisted. Gently, she eased away and rolled onto her back, then sat up and took him into her arms. He didn't say a word, just pulled her close, molding her body so tightly to his that it seemed as if she was part of him. Delphyne moved her lips, not speaking out loud, just mouthing the words over and over for her own sake. "I love you.... I love you...."

They stayed that way for a long, long time, until she felt his cock stir against her and begin to rise. He turned his head and whispered into her ear.

"I didn't please you."

"You pleased me more than I can say." She didn't know how to explain that his violent passion, the intensity of his need for her, was more precious than a simple orgasm could possibly have been.

"We can try again." Lifting his head, he looked down into her eyes. "I only know how to take pleasure from a slave. I will learn to give it. This is my vow to you."

She wanted to laugh, but the tone in his voice stopped her.

"You already know, Methos. Trust me on this."

He shook his head. "No, not like I will know. You'll see."

She looked back, searchingly, and saw that what he needed now was to give. Twining her fingers into his hair, she drew him down for a kiss. His lips were gentle upon hers. Tender. She was startled to discover that this touched her even more deeply than his wildest passion, and she felt as though she were melting within his arms. His cock twitched, hardening more, and she broke the kiss to whisper against his mouth.

"Yes... please. Softly, this time."

He smiled, and eased her down onto the bed. It felt strange, telling him what she wanted. She had never done that before. Then again, he'd never asked. Sinking into the pillows, she looked up as though seeing him for the first time.

Opening her legs, Methos knelt between them, then lifted her hips and drew her towards him. Gently, so very gently now, he eased back into her. She felt the head pushing past her entrance and then his shaft filling her, stretching her open. One large hand splayed wide and reached up to her breasts. His thumb stroked one nipple, his small finger the other, and his free hand went to her face, fingertips playing along her lips.

Delphyne closed her eyes and gave her body over to him. His fingers upon her lips tasted of her own sex, and she flicked out her tongue to lick them, then to draw them into her mouth. He gave her exactly what she had asked for - soft, sweet love-making. His hips moved only the slightest bit, just enough for her to feel him gliding back and forth inside her, and she felt as though she were sinking into a warm bath of pleasure. Opening her eyes, she reached up to caress his hair. Traced the lines and hollows of his face.

He took one of her hands, then the other, and smiling down at her guided them to her breasts. Silently, he urged her to give herself pleasure. She hesitated, strangely shy. Then she pinched her nipples and rolled them around just the way she liked best, and the delicious sensations shimmered through her, adding a new sheen of wetness to his already gleaming cock. He smiled to encourage her. One hand brushed up and down her arm, and the fingertips of the other nudged back into her mouth, in and out, mimicking the motions of his hips.

It was exquisite, but what she really wanted was to be held, to feel close to him. Bolder now, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down to her. Methos straightened out his legs and stretched out on top of her, belly to belly, chest to breasts, mouth meeting her mouth in a kiss. His angle inside her shifted, and she felt his shaft grinding a slow, steady rhythm against the swollen button of flesh just above her entrance. Sensations multiplied, intensified. She sank her nails into his back and wrapped her legs around his hips, dancing beneath him.

Methos clutched handfuls of her hair and used it to pull her up into his kiss. He sucked her tongue inside his mouth, and the sounds she made vibrated against his lips. Her pleasure was growing into need now, and she moved faster beneath him. He matched her pace, following the little cues and signals she gave him, more attentive to her than he had ever been before. With every motion of his body he was telling her, "This is yours. This is for you."

Her muscles tightened as she reached for her release. She felt him tensing as well, as her writhing brought him quickly to the edge. He couldn't have expected to come so easily, not after that first explosive orgasm, and now he had to work to hold back, to wait for her. She didn't make him wait long. Her movements became sharper, faster, taking what he offered, so close, oh gods, so close -

A thin, high keening sounded in her throat as she held on to that moment of stillness before the storm broke. His kiss bruised her mouth desperately. Then her body bucked beneath his and her hands slammed down onto the bed as she came.

Her orgasm released his. It was more intense for him this time, almost painful yet at the same time gentle, and ten times more sweet. She felt him exploding into her, little bursts of release, and Delphyne threw her arms around him to hold him close as she spasmed around his cock in an endless agony of pleasure.

Methos tore his mouth away from hers and gasped in a breath. Her tension flowed out of her as the orgasm receded, and she rubbed her face into his long hair. She smiled radiantly in the golden aura of afterglow. Gradually, he relaxed, and at last rolled to one side, carrying her with him. His eyes opened to stare into hers.

She was flushed, her skin damp with perspiration, her hair a mess. Long fingers brushed the dark strands off of her cheek, smoothing them back, and she turned her head so that she could kiss them.

"Perfect," she whispered.

His eyes closed and he relaxed down into the pillows. For the first time since leaving Kronos, she saw no pain on his face.

She was content.


End  

1. chlamys = the ancient Greek equivalent of a cloak

2. Before Apollo, the temple at Delphi belonged to the goddess Gaia. There was a divine battle in which Apollo took over this temple for his own worship. The myths describe him as defeating a huge serpent, the Python, in order to make the place his, but even after that only women were allowed to serve as Oracle. This happened circa 560 BCE, and was probably the reason that Nemed and Nemain (Delphyne) heard of the Oracle at Delphi. In some versions of the myth, the serpent is named Delphyne.

3. Historians speculate that the mephitic vapors of the volcano were what induced the visions of the Oracle. They may also have been caused by chewing laurel leaves, a plant which was sacred to Apollo and contained small amounts of cyanide. Then again, it could have just been a religious trance.

4. What the ancient Greeks called the Celtic tribes. There is no soft "c" sound in ancient Greek, so many of the words that we would spell with a "c" are translated from the Greek with a "k" instead. The city of Delphi was attacked by the Celtic tribes from Gaul in circa 279 BCE.

5. This would be somewhere on the coast of what is now Denmark.

6. Deirdre was perhaps the most tragic heroine of Irish legend. She was the most beautiful woman in the world, and cursed so that her beauty would bring only sorrow. Her husband and his brothers were killed by a jealous king, and she was captured. Deirdre committed suicide by leaping from a chariot and dashing her brains out on a rock.