broadsword_babe: (Stock (cowgirl))
[personal profile] broadsword_babe
When: September, 1875
Where: Near Manitou Springs, Colorado
Alias: Kate Darcy

The fire was warm on her feet as she leaned back against her saddle. The smell of the venison stew filled the small clearing. It wasn't the best meal she'd had in her nineteen centuries, but it wasn't the worst. Someone (a former husband perhaps?) had once remarked that all she needed was a pot and a fire and she could cook just about anything. The memory amused her.

She was snapped out of her reverie by a soft woof from the enormous silvery-gray dog that lay nearby. In an instant, she was on her feet, her broadsword pulled from the saddle-holder usually intended for a rifle.

"Please, there is no need for your weapon," a soft, male voice said from the shadows.

"Show yourself first," she countered.

Granted, he didn't feel like an Immortal, but better safe than sorry. She watched as a man emerged into the firelight. He was taller than she expected and dressed in drab clothing, but the way he moved and carried himself said he was more than what he seemed. She lowered the sword, but didn't put it away entirely.

"May I sit by your fire?" he asked politely.

"Um, sure," she replied finally. She laid down the sword and sat back down on her bedroll. "Name's Kate Darcy."

"I am called Caine," he answered with a small bow of his head as he sat Indian-style on the opposite side of the fire.

"So, what brings you to Colorado?" she asked, regarding him with a tilt to her head.

"I am looking for my brother," Caine answered in the same haltingly soft speech.

Again, she looked at him curiously. "You're not exactly from around here, are you?"

"No, I am not," he answered. "And you? Why is a woman warrior in these mountains? I have not met many women who know swords."

She sighed. "That, Caine, is a very long story."

His dark eyes danced in the flickering firelight. "I have learned that is an answer given when someone wants to hide the truth."

She smiled wryly. "In my case, the fact that it's a long story is the truth. And what about you? I know there's more to you than just a brother. Unless I miss my guess, I'm not the only warrior here."

"You are correct, Kate," he answered with a smile of his own. "Perhaps my story is best told over a hot bowl of stew."

She laughed. "I suppose that's fair."

She then dug around in her camp supplies for another cup and spoon for Caine. A few moments later, the pair fell into silence as they ate.

"I suppose since you asked, I should probably go first," Kate remarked a little while later.

Caine, in turn, said nothing, but nodded for her to continue.

"I guess the long and short of it is that I'm hiding," she said bluntly.

"From who?" he asked politely. "What does a woman warrior have to fear?"

"Others like myself," she replied. "We challenge each other to single combat."

"For what reason?"

"Knowledge. When one of us beheads the other, we gain all their knowledge as well as that of their opponents."

Caine blinked slowly, trying to comprehend. "Then you are one of the Old Ones?"

"Old Ones?" she repeated, confused.

"Master Po used to tell stories about the Old Ones," he answered. "That they looked and acted like every other mortal, except they cannot die unless their heads are taken in single combat. Every Shao Lin Master has trained at least one Old One in their lifetimes."

"You're right," she admitted. "I am one of your Old Ones. Have you heard of the Vikings or Northmen?"

Caine shook his head. "I was not given lessons in history, other than that of the Shao Lin."

She thought for a moment, trying to put her age in terms he might understand. "I am only about four centuries younger than your Buddha."

He stared at her. "Then you must truly be a warrior to have survived so long."

She smirked. "I once led a hundred thousand into battle. Do you understand that number?"

"A hundred thousand," he repeated. "Yes, I understand."

"Of course, that was a very long time ago," she added.

"But that still does not answer my question," he reminded her. "If you have led great battles, why are you hiding?"

That simple question brought her up short. He was right. She didn't need to hide. She was a warrior. Hiding was really beneath her.

"First, not many would believe a woman led so many," she finally replied. "Second, someone once told me that the best fight is no fight."

Caine barked a short laugh. "Master Po once told me the same thing."

"So, tell me of the Shao Lin," she said, finishing off the last of her stew.

She then sat back and listened as he described his life in the temple. He told her of the Shao Lin's method of self-defence and how it had started because of mountain raiders. What he described sounded appealing to her, in more ways than one. She waited until he had finished before she spoke.

"Tell you what, Caine, I'll help you look for this brother of yours if you teach me some of what you know."

"Why do you want to learn?"

There was more to his question than met the eye, as so much else about him.

"The more I know, the longer I'll live," she replied.

"Then I will show you, as long as you promise that you will only use what I teach in defense only."

She snorted. "Believe me, Caine, I've long since learned to pick my battles."

"In that case, I believe the correct saying is that we have a deal."

"Deal," she answered and the pair shook hands.

Quinnleigh Kincaid
Highlander OC
965 Words
In fannish memory of David Carradine. Rest in peace, Grasshopper.
Special thanks to the writer of [ profile] dani_kypros for beta-ing this, even though it's been years since either of us have watched the show.


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