Disclaimer and Notes: Panzer/Davis owns them; I'm just borrowing them for fun. Many thanks go to Sherry for graciously providing the lyrics to "New" by No Doubt. This story was written for the Quickening revolution of the Highlander Lyric Wheel.


A New Man

by Raine Wynd


The challenge had been won so easily, Darius didn't think twice about the Quickening rising to greet him. Standing at the gates of Paris, Darius took a deep breath, centering himself out of habit, and waited arrogantly. The priest who'd dared challenge him and bar him from storming the city lay dead at his feet, but Darius paid the corpse little heed. His eyes were focused on the power he knew was coming to him, power that would make him stronger as an immortal, power that might one day help him be the One. It would be a heady rush, and he only hoped that it would not drain his ability to fight later on, when he would lead the charge on the city. He would need his strength and his wits then; it promised to be a bloody, protracted battle.

Lightning and mist rose from the body to intertwine in a ghostly dance of sparks and smoke. For a moment, the Quickening seemed to hesitate, as if searching for its intended target. Darius opened his arms, bracing himself for the impact. He watched through open eyes as the unnatural ether snaked towards him, then slammed into his body with the force of a hurricane.

The first hint he had that this wasn't going to be like any Quickening he'd ever taken before was when the first rush of power poured through him. It felt as though he was going through his first Quickening, but far, far worse. This time he knew what a Quickening felt like, how to master control of the essence of the vanquished so that it didn't overwhelm him with the sense of another personality, how to ground himself so that he won everything he'd fought so hard not to lose. This…this was something else, something only his teacher had hinted might happen if he didn't master his sense of self, but it went beyond anything he'd ever been told, anything he'd ever experienced, anything he'd ever known. It terrified him, soothed him, made him acutely aware of who the priest had been… and who he, Darius, had been by comparison. And yet, no condemnation existed for the terror and chaos Darius had been responsible for… only sadness for the blood shed and compassion for the scars Darius bore on his heart, body, and soul.

Darius didn't know how to handle that, couldn't fight the gentle understanding that saw through the decisions he'd made. It made him want to weep for the things he'd done, the secrets he'd had to keep even though doing so caused others harm. He'd thought himself a fair man, a man with a soldier's honor, but the feelings pouring through him said otherwise.

Over and above the emotions, Darius could hear the voice of the priest singing hymns. How that could be, Darius didn't know, and didn't have time to contemplate. He had to silence it *now*, before it drove him insane. Screaming in protest, Darius tried to drown that voice out, but the essence that had been the priest was stronger, forcing Darius to gravitate to his will. The Quickening consumed him violently, making him realize that it had been no foolish move for the city's leaders to allow the priest to confront him. No, it had been a calculated decision to send this particular maniac his way. He'd underestimated his enemy's defenses, and now he was paying for it. Some instinct for self-preservation screamed that he'd never get the taste of this Quickening out of his mouth now, that he'd never be whole again the way he was before he'd cut off that bastard priest's head, and yet… he didn't feel particularly distraught by that. It was as though he'd been waiting for this, that he'd indeed grown bored by the endless wars he'd waged, that he'd needed something to give him a purpose for living.

Everything that had been Darius, one of the greatest generals the world had known, was laid bare by the Quickening, then overlaid by the purity that had been the priest's soul. Darius could feel himself changing, shifting as the power enveloped him, flooding him with images of harmony and peace, of time spent negotiating and working through diplomacy rather than on the battlefield waging war and killing men with swords. His mission was clear now, and some part of him wondered why he'd spent so much time believing otherwise.

With a start, he realized he'd fallen to his knees as the Quickening's effects settled, and the maelstrom that had arisen around him as the Quickening's energy had spilled over on the ground died. Feeling awkward, as if he was not quite comfortable in his own skin, Darius half-rose, then, prodded by the new spirit within him, spoke a few words of reverent thanks along with a quick prayer. Something told him, as he set out towards the priest's church, away from where his troops were camped, that he'd need all the help he was going to get. Grayson, his lieutenant and most recent student, would be far from pleased by this development. Yet Darius didn't want to turn around, didn't want to be the man he'd been before he'd taken the Quickening. He could only hope that in time, Grayson would understand.

— — — -
Lyrics used: gravitate to your will (modified for pronoun usage), consuming me violently (modified)
© 5.26.01

"New"
sung by No Doubt

Don't let it go away
This feeling has got to stay
Don't let it go away
This feeling has got to stay
And I can't believe
I've had this chance now
Don't let it go away, yeah

New, you're so new
You, you're new
And I never had this taste in my past
New, you're so new

The normal hesitation is gone
And I really gravitate to your will
You're here to fetch me out
Cuz I never had this taste in my mouth

Oh no, you're not old
And you're not familiar
Recently discovered
And I'm learning about you
New, you're so new
You, you're new
And I never had this taste in my past
New, you're so new

And you're consuming me violently
And you're ever shamelessly tempting me
Who sent this maniac?
Cuz I never had this taste in my past

Oh, you're different
You're different from the former
Like a fresh battery, I'm energized by you

Don't let it go away
This feeling has got to stay
Don't let it go away
This feeling has got to stay
And I can't believe I've had this chance now
Don't let it go away

Why am I so curious
This territory's dangerous
I'll probably end up at the start
I'll be back in line with my...Broken heart

New, you're so new
You, you're new
And I never had this taste in my past
New, you're so new
Don't let it go away
This feeling has got to stay
Don't let it go away
This feeling has got to stay
And I can't believe I've had this chance now
Don't let it go away

 

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Raine Wynd 2014