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Cassandra almost swore at him in her exasperation. Duncan was being incredibly blind; she had to make him see. “Methos is a liar, and he is very good at it. He’ll just lie to you again, the way he’s been lying ever since you’ve known him.” She had no doubt that Methos had lied about what he was, or Duncan would never have considered him a friend. “He’ll do things for you, pretend he cares, just to get you to trust him, but it’s all a lie. I’ve seen him do it before.”
Sudden uncertainty came into Duncan’s eyes.
Cassandra wanted to say more, but she knew Duncan had to convince himself of this. She waited a moment, then she had to ask, “What did Connor say about me?”
Duncan looked at her carefully before he answered. “He said you were his friend.”
She drew in a quick breath, welcoming the painful gladness that statement brought. “Yes. We’re friends now.” Connor had hated her for centuries, but no more. He had finally forgiven her for what she had done to him. His friendship and his forgiveness made it easier for her to continue, knowing she was likely to die. For that was what she was facing�a battle to the death. A battle with Death.
A battle she wanted to fight now. “I’m not imagining this, Duncan, and I’m not making it up. It’s true.” She started for the door.
“Cassandra, wait!” he called.
“I’ve waited too long already.”
She had waited too long. She had not been able to find Methos. But she did find Kronos. He was in an abandoned power-station, south of Seacouver. She sat in her car and watched the building for a while, then gathered up her courage and her sword and went in.
The sensation of another Immortal crawled into her skull as she entered the main hall. Kronos’s voice�that hated, mocking voice she had not heard for millennia and still remembered perfectly�echoed off the concrete walls and the metal pipes and silent machinery.
“You’re late,” he said. “I hope you brought his sword.”
“I brought mine,” she called, the hilt comfortable and comforting in her hands as she advanced on him. “It’s all I need.”
Kronos looked up from his desk. His hair was short now, just like Methos, and the face-paint was gone, but the scar across his right eye was still there, and the hate was still there. He smiled in lazy anticipation as he picked up his sword.
Cassandra suddenly realized where Roland had learned his smile. Kronos had taught him well. She wet her lips and kept walking toward the Horseman. She was not going to run. Not again. They circled each other at a distance, watching, judging, waiting.
“You look different somehow,” he said appraisingly, as he stripped the clothes off her with his eyes. “Maybe it’s because you’re on your feet, instead of on your back.” He smiled again, a lewd, knowing leer. “Or on your knees.”
Cassandra did not respond.
“Or on your hands and knees,” Kronos continued. “Or on your face in the dirt.” The cheerful smile grew wider. “Do you remember, Cassandra?” His wet his lips, but not in nervousness. “I do,” he confided.
“Do you remember the last time I knelt at your feet, Kronos?” she countered. “In your tent?”
It was evening now, and the inside of the tent was dim, lit only by the red flickers from the fire in the brazier. It had been mid-day when Kronos had dragged her into his tent, a lifetime ago. Many lifetimes ago. She couldn’t remember how many times he had killed her, how many different ways she had died.
“No more!” she begged, as Kronos yanked her to feet yet again. “No more!” she said, finally willing to cooperate instead of merely surrendering. It didn’t matter anymore. “Please, don’t hurt me.”
He smiled then, pleased at her total submission, and he let go of her wrists.
She slowly went to her knees before him, using her mouth and her hands to touch him in the ways that Methos had taught her, hoping to please this new master as she had pleased the old.
Kronos sighed in satisfaction and tilted his head back, his eyes closed. “Maybe I won’t give you to Caspian after all.”
She forced herself not to tremble. She had seen what Caspian did to his slaves. And Kronos would share her with his brothers eventually. She knew that.
Unless she ran away.
She could not control her trembling now, as she remembered the brutal punishments from before. But what were her choices? The slim chance for freedom now? Or Kronos, then Caspian, then Silas, then probably Kronos again? Over and over again, forever. Methos did not want her anymore; today had made that very clear.
She could not bear to stay here, to see Methos from a distance every day, to remember.
Kronos still had his eyes closed, and she made her choice. The broad-bladed knife lay on his pallet, dark-wet with her blood. She had never killed anyone before, but it should be no different, really, than butchering a goat, and she had done that many times. She picked up the blade and drove it straight up into his groin, twisting the knife in the wound before she backed away, his blood spilling over her hand.
He shuddered and fell, gasping with pain and surprise. She shuddered, too, with revulsion and fear. But there was one difference between butchering goats and killing Kronos. She felt sorry for the goats.