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The Master
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Highlander 1.4: A Rose by any other Name

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January 2007

“I’m sorry miss, but I’ve haven’t seen him,” The older man standing behind the counter of the Convenience store handed back the picture he had been handed just a moment before.

“Thanks anyway,” She took the photo back and placed it back into her pocket and walked out into the street. It was a nice winter day, the sun was shining and the Temperature was perfect, slipping on her sunglasses she moved down the street to her next target. It had been weeks since Cybele had come to Athens in search of Caleb and outside of a couple guesses she had come up cold. She knew it would be tough in a city with over 600,000 people, but it was looking unlikely that she would find any trace of the man. She was unnerved that he had been so close to her which made the desire to find him all the more intense. The Buzzing of another immortal instantly put an end to her thoughts as she looking around to see where the source was coming from, thinking it might be Caleb she made sure to keep her hand near her hidden sword. Across the street she could see a young girl, barely even a woman, looking around unmistakably looking for the source of the Buzzing she was feeling. She had long light brown hair, which she was wearing down, and was dressed in a pair of worn Jeans and an old novelty T-Shirt that had the faded image of John Lennon’s face. Heading across the street she came up to the girl as her back was turned and soon stood face to face with the girl as she turned around, a moment passed before both women recognized each other.

“Cybele!” the young girl excitedly wrapped her arms around the startled woman, she wasn’t quite used to energetic displays of emotion, Kyros was far to stoic, his biggest show of emotion was usually a laugh or a smile.

“Nice to see you too, Juliet,” Cybele looked a little embarrassed with the crowd that was watching.

“It’s been far too long,” Juliet smiled brightly.

“Jules,” another woman’s voice interrupted the conversation. Cybele was surprised to discover there was another young immortal standing in the doorway of the building they were in front of.

“Where are my manners?” Juliet shook her head. “Cybele this is my friend Stacy Norton.”

“Nice to meet you,” Cybele acknowledged the young woman, she looked a little older then Juliet but she knew looks could be deceiving.

“Cybele here was my Teacher,” Juliet informed her friend. “A long time ago.”

“Maybe to you,” Cybele smiled at the shot.

“Hey why don’t you join us,” Stacy chimed in. “I’d love to hear more about Jules here, we were just heading in for some lunch.”

“I’d love to,” Cybele followed the two young women into the restaurant and to an awaiting table.

“So you were Jules’ Teacher,” Stacy asked after the trio had sat down.

“Yes,” Cybele answered. “She was in a bit of a bind at the time.”

Verona, Italy

Standing alone on the balcony, Cybele looked out at the town of Verona; she hadn’t planed on staying around too long and was thankful Kyros had homes in several locations across the old Roman Empire. It gave her a place to stay even though she hasn’t seen Kyros in over 80 years. In the Square below the controlled frenzy of the Market was carrying on, as she watched the crowd a fight broke out between two groups of men who had clearly been arguing a moment earlier, they were quickly subdued by the royal guards but still yelled at each other as they were dragged off towards the palace, followed by a small crowd.

“What was that about?” Cybele turned to her companion, a young woman who lived in Verona and stayed at the house who had been hired by Kyros to run the house on his behalf.

“It’s the Capulet and Montague boys,” she replied as she finished packing away Cybele’s clothes. “They hate each other; have for years, so they often fight.”

“Over what?” Cybele walked back into the room.

“No one knows, the Capulet’s control most of the east side of the town and the Montague’s control a lot of the western half,” The young woman shrugged. “One of these days someone is going to end up dead.”

“Let’s hope not,” Cybele smiled warmly. “Come, Rosaline, lets see what Market has to offer.”

The Two Woman left the house and made their way towards the Market to look around. As Cybele was checking out some of the goods she watched her friend talking with another young woman, not even a woman, who was dressed in the finest clothes and had an older woman standing not far behind keeping watch. The Girl didn’t stand out to much for Cybele but as she stood near the girl she could feel the tingling in the back of her head that indicated that she could become an Immortal. Moving on she made a mental note to ask Rosaline about the girl later as she made her way through the market place. As she walked she felt a larger buzzing in the back of her head which told her another Immortal was in the area, looking around she was stunned to see an attractive dark haired woman standing across the path. She may look like a woman in her late 20’s but Cybele knew the truth, she was really well over 3000 years old and to call her a Goddess was an understatement as according to Greek Myth she was a Goddess.

“Cybele?” she walked over and embraced her friend. “What are you doing here, it’s been ages.”

“I’m just passing through, Kyros owns a house here so I figured I’d hang out for a bit,” Cybele looked the woman over; she hadn’t seen the woman she knew as Hera since the Peloponnesian War. Hera had been part of a society that had helped shape the cultures that would become the Greeks, the group had been so successful that the people they helped ended up basing their whole Mythology on the group. “What are you doing here?

“I live here,” Hera smiled as she pointed towards an older looking villa down the road. “Is Kyros here as well?”

“Sadly no,” Cybele smiled; it was no secret to her that Hera had a fling with Kyros ages ago. “Haven’t seen him in about a century, so not sure what he’s up to.”

“A shame, I saw him a few years ago as he was passing through, didn’t have a chance to talk though,” Hera replied as Cybele led the woman back towards the house. Both women looked over at Rosaline and her friend as they walked by, the two women returned to the house and quickly started talking about old times as they waited for Rosaline to return.

“Needless to say, Hadrian was less then pleased when Kyros told him that people could just go around his wall.” Cybele laughed as she told a story about her time with Emperor Hadrian.

“I would imagine he wasn’t,” Hera nodded. “Bet he’d be even more upset to know the next guy built another way further north.”

“Welcome back Rosaline.” Cybele had noticed the young woman come in, her hands were full with what she had bought from the Market, as she stood there she had a confused look on her face as she listened to the two woman speak in a language she didn’t know which caused Hera to giggle.

“Thank you,” Rosaline placed the food she had bought on another table.

“This is an old friend of mine,” Cybele motioned towards Hera. “We ran into each other in the Market.”

“Hello Roseline, I’ve seen you around town, you’re the niece of Capulet aren’t you” Roseline nodded as Hera walked over towards the girl. “I’m Jelena.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, who was that girl you were talking to?” Cybele asked

“She is my cousin, Giulietta Capulet,” Roseline turned from Hera to answer. “They are having a Feast tonight and she invited me to come.”

“So will you?” Cybele was happy to hear that Roseline was invited out; it would allow her and Hera to talk with out censoring themselves. “You don’t need to keep me company just because you were told to look after the place.”

“I would like to,” Roseline looked down at her feet as if she were embarrassed

“Then go and have a good time,” Hera placed a hand on her arm.

“I insist and if your father has any issues then send him to me,” Cybele couldn’t help but feel for the girl, she had been told to keep watch on the house which cut town on the time she could spend with her friends.

“I will go,” Roseline lifted her head and smiled. After unpacking the food she left the house to go home so she could get ready for the Feast.

“Lord Capulet throws a Feast every year, though I suspect this year it’s a coming out party for Giulietta,” Hera announced after the girl had left.

“How well do you know her?” Cybele returned to the table where she had left the glass of wine she had been drinking.

“Enough to know she’s one of us, or will be if she suffered a violent death,” Hera replied. “She’s Capulet’s only surviving child, I believe she is or will be 16 soon. Word is the Prince’s Nephew is hoping to marry her and that he’ll be a guest at the feast.”

“I do not believe I’ll be going,” Cybele took a sip from the glass.

“Been here Twelve years,” Hera smiled. “Never been invited once.”


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The Master
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Re: Highlander 1.4: A Rose by any other Name

The Next Day

Cybele walked through the square alone; while it wasn’t her first time in the city it had been several hundred years since she had been there so she had decided to have a look around. As she explored the ancient city she heard a lot of talk about the Feast and for the most part she wasn’t sad she missed it, it sounded like the usual feast for the time. She kind of missed the old Roman feasts, she may not have liked a lot of the aspects of the Roman Empire but she had to admit they knew how to have a good time. She knew that had Kyros been in town they would have gotten in, she never knew anyone who found a way to be friends or even advisers to powerful men and leaders the way Kyros often did. Shaking herself out of the past she continued down the street back towards the Square where she heard the familiar sounds of sword hitting sword. She could hear the sounds of fighting between two men as she approached the square. It wasn’t much of a leap to believe that this was once again the Capulet and Montague clans battling it out.

“Mercutio, Tybalt stop this,” a young man stepped in to try and stop the duel. “You heard what the Prince said.”

“Stay out of this you Montague Dog,” One of the men snapped as he swung his sword at the other man’s head.

“I am sick and tired of you Capulet snakes acting like you own the town,” the other man snapped back.

“Enough,” the young man stepped in between the two men to keep them apart and grabbing the closer man’s arm

“Die,” the man further way quickly lunged forward and stabbed the other in the chest.

“Mercutio!” the young man screamed as he caught his friend in his arms as he fell. Cybele saw the anger in his eyes as the winner of the duel laughed as he walked away.

“Come on Romaeus,” another man came forward. “Before the Prince’s men arrives.”

“Tybalt,” Romaeus hissed as he picked up his friends fallen sword. With a scream he charged the retreating Tybalt who had turned around in time for Romaeus to drive the sword into his chest. The man’s friends quickly ran over and pulled Romaeus away. The look on his face told Cybele that he had no idea what he had just done. With Tybalt’s friends running away, Romaeus returned to his fallen friend’s body and simply waited until the Prince and his men arrived.

“Romaeus,” The Prince looked around at the two dead bodies. “What have you done? I have no choice but to have you executed.”

“If I may be allowed a moment of your time,” Cybele stepped forward “I am a witness for what happened.”

“Who might you be?” The Prince asked as a crowd gathered around.

“My name is Cybele,” She replied as she felt the presence of another immortal, looking behind her she saw that Hera had arrived. “I’m new to the town.”

“She’s a friend of Dante Neri’s” Hera stepped forward to speak up; using the name Kyros had used to transfer the house to. She knew while he didn’t live there the Prince would know who he was. “She’s staying at his house.”

“Then by all means,” The Prince agreed to let her speak.

“It’s not his fault, he tried to stop those two men there from fighting,” Cybele defended the young man.

“Clearly he failed,” The Prince rebutted

“That man over there,” she pointed towards the man Romaeus had killed.

“Tybalt,” The Prince added. “A member of the House of Capulet and that is Mercutio, he a cousin of mine.”

“Thank You my lord,” Cybele bowed slightly before returning to her story. “Tybalt killed Mercutio while Romaeus was restraining him. Romaeus then acted in anger to avenge your cousin; by the time it was over he didn’t know what he was doing.”

“Is this true?” The Prince asked

“Yes, my lord,” Another member of the crowd who had witnessed the fight came forward.

“Very well,” The Prince sighed. “You are not guilty of murder or fighting. But I can not let you go unpunished, therefore I am banishing you from Verona forever, you have until tomorrow morning. If, after that time, you are found in town you will be executed.”

“That isn’t fare,” Cybele stepped forward.

“That is my ruling,” The Prince replied. “If he wants to live he must leave.”

“So be it,” Romaeus bowed his head to accept his judgment and with that the Prince and his men turned and left and the crowd soon broke up and left as well. “Thanks for what you’ve done.”

“I wish I could have done more,” Cybele smiled sadly. “You take care of yourself.”

“I will,” Romaeus turned and left the Square as well leaving Cybele alone with Hera.

“This town is nuts.” Cybele sighed

“I agree with you,” Hera replied as everyone returned to their daily business in the square.

“What is their problem anyway,” Cybele started walking towards Kyros’ house.

“I doubt they even know anymore,” Hera sighed. “Knowing Mortals it was likely something small like one stole the other’s woman or stepped on his foot.”

“Come on, I’ll make us some supper,” Cybele entered the house followed by Hera.

Next Day

The sounds of the crowd greeted Cybele as she stepped out on the balcony to see a large crowd gathered as Lord Capulet was standing next to the Prince and another man, about 10 years younger then the Prince, but clearly a relation. On the other side of Capulet, Giulietta stood, her head bowed as she silently listened to her father. Two older woman were standing silently behind the two, one was beaming as the other clearly had reservations over what was about to happen.

“So it is with great pleasure that I announce the upcoming wedding of my lovely Daughter Giulietta Capulet to Paris of Verona,” The older man made a big show as he spoke. Cybele didn’t need to be nearly 4000 years old to see that Giulietta was less then thrilled with the news. “Now I see no reason to wait long for this glorious day so the wedding will take place in three days.”

“It’s a clear power play,” Hera’s voice was hushed as she stepped out on the Balcony behind her. “His daughter marries the Prince’s brother; he’ll have more power then the Montagues, wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t try and get the Prince to change his mind about Romaeus.”

“Giulietta sure doesn’t look happy,” Cybele felt a bit sorry for the girl; it was common place for woman to be used as pawns in the political games of their fathers.

“From what I’ve been able to gather, they didn’t really hit it off at the feast,” Hara replied. “In fact a friend of mine who was there said she saw Giulietta dancing with another man.”

“That be enough a reason to be upset,” Cybele walked back in to the house. “Nothing we can do about it.”

“Sadly you’re right,” Hera smiled sadly

The next day…

Cybele had put the matter behind her and set about to take care of the business that had brought her to Verona in the first place, she wasn’t there to keep an eye on some kid who may or may not become immortal. The days of violent deaths being common place were long past, the fact that she was in a powerful family and about to become a member of the Royal house increased the odds of her living a healthy life so it made no sense to worry about being around incase she fell to her death or was stabbed. It was time to get to business and now she was waiting alone, standing along the bank of the river that ran through town, which had been the arranged meeting place.

“Cybele Costantini,” a mousy sounding voice called from behind her.

“Yes,” Cybele was often thankful she her name was still common so all she needed was a surname that fit in with where ever she was living. “Do you have the box?”

“Yes,” The man looked as mousy as his voice sounded, he was about as tall as she was and had a slender build, she was quite sure she could break him in half if she wanted to. He held in his hands a wooden box that had brass strips across the top. The man quietly walked over and handed the box over and watched as she opened it to examine the contents. Inside a gold necklace sat at the bottom of the box, its leather straps had long since dried out but it looked very much like she remembered. Its red ruby stone was as clear as the day she received it from her father, she had lost it in the fighting after her affair with Kyros was uncovered by her then Husband. It had taken her thousands of years to track it down to a private collector who had his collection of ancient artifacts taken by a number of people after his death. “Is it the right one?”

“Yes it is, Marco,” Cybele felt her eyes starting to water up. She had met Marco nearly 10 years earlier in Rome and hired him to find the necklace. He had sent word a week earlier that he had located the necklace and acquired it; she didn’t know or care how. “You did a wonderful job, there was no trouble?”

“None,” Marco replied. “With the information you gave me it was easy to locate who had it.”

“I owe you big time,” Cybele closed the box and placed it under her arm.

“How about dinner, on me,” Marco smiled, it was no secret to her that he had a thing for her, in many ways she was sure it was why he worked so fast to find the necklace.

“You’re on,” Cybele smiled back. “I have some things to do and I’m sure you do as well. We’ll meet in the usual place in Rome, next week.”


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Re: Highlander 1.4: A Rose by any other Name

After parting ways, she walked back towards the square where she was shocked to see a large crowd gathered around, many were openly weeping. Hera had sensed her as soon as she entered the square and walked over.

“They found Giulietta dead this morning,” Hera filled her in. “Her nurse went in to wake her up and she didn’t respond.”

“What happened?” Cybele was a bit surprised by the news.

“No one knows,” Hera shook her head. “She just died in her sleep.”

“The Poor girl,” Cybele watched as the family walked passed carrying the body towards the Capulet tomb. She was more perplexed by the fact she could still sense the young girl as a pre-immortal, something she shouldn’t be able to do if she were dead, and she could tell by the look on Hera’s face she was also confused.

“I didn’t think we would still be able to sense her if she was dead,” Hera said after the two returned to Kyros’ house.

“I never came across a pre-immortal who died quietly before,” Cybele shrugged. “I have no idea what happens.”

“I take it you got what you came for,” Hera turned the subject to the box that Cybele had placed on the table.

“Yes,” Cybele looked over at the box herself. “I couldn’t believe that after all this time it was still around.”

“Time is funny that way,” Hera laughed. “So you’ll be on your way soon.”

“Yeah, heading back to Rome tomorrow,” Cybele told her. The Rest of the day was uneventful for Cybele as she spent the day with Hera, before she left to allow Cybele the time to pack up the belongings she had packed.

The Next Morning…

When she awoke the next day, she found that once again the Square full of people as the Prince stood on the far end with both Capulet and Montague next to him. She was to far away to hear what he was saying but she could make out two bodies laid out in front of them. She felt the buzz of another immortal just before Hera barged in and came straight to her.

“Hera, what’s going on,” Cybele spoke first to allow Hera a chance to catch her breath.

“Seems our feeling was right, Giulietta only faked her death, using some kind of poison to appear dead,” Hera revealed. “Then last night Romaeus came back and killed himself, Giulietta must have woken up to see him and killed herself for real.”

“But why?” Cybele was confused at the latest turn of events.

“I guess the two of them were married,” Hera walked out on the balcony next to her. “Friar Lorenzo came out to reveal the whole thing; the two got married the morning after the Feast and I guess they worked up a plot that would have had her fake her death then Romaeus would return and the two of them would leave Verona. But Romaeus never got the message and killed himself instead, when they found the bodies Giulietta had a dagger in her chest and was laying on his body.”

“Guess I’m sticking around another day,” Cybele sighed. “Unless you want to pick up and leave so you can train her.”

“You can have her,” Hera shook her head. “I’m not ready to leave just yet.”

“So what’s going on right now?” Cybele turned her focus back to the far end of the Square.

“The Prince is announcing an end to the feud between the two families,” Hera announced. “A good idea for the two families, since they now have no children to carry on their family line.”

“Shame it took the death of their children to see how foolish their feud was,” Cybele had seen many foolish feuds and Crusades in her lifetime, as she watched the crowd they started the somber parade towards the cemetery where they would place both of them in a tomb. She quickly started planning what to do about Giulietta as she was due to wake up at some point, it was important to get her out of Verona before anyone saw her. The good news was the Cemetery was on the road south so it wouldn’t be too hard to get her out of town.

Working out a plan with Hera, Cybele said goodbye to her friend and packed up her belongings and placed them in the saddle bags on her horse and rode south where she came to a stop near the cemetery. A half hour after she had arrived Hera rode up on another horse that she had bought from a friend of hers, who wouldn’t ask any questions. Once she was sure everything was set, she walked back towards the center of town where she lived leaving Cybele alone with the two horses as she waited for her opening. Securing the horses she pulled out a small dagger that she had been hiding in her boot and moved into the Cemetery and making sure to remain out of site, approached the tomb that held the bodies of Romaeus and Giulietta. When she came to the back of the tomb she felt the telltale presence of another immortal, sneaking around the side she came to the entrance. Using the dagger she opened the doors to find the young woman clutching Romaeus’ hand, she was clearly crying as she looked at Cybele in shock.

“Easy now,” Cybele stepped forward. “I’m like you.”

What is going on, why am I not dead,” Giulietta said with a horse voice. “Am I being punished?”

“No, you can not die, Giulietta,” Cybele stepped forward, wishing to hurry things along as the patrol was sure to be making his rounds soon. She had figured that she had a half hour, according to the town crier, to get in and out. “You are Immortal, come on lets get out of here.”

“I don’t want to leave him,” Giulietta stepped away, unwilling to leave.

“There is nothing you can do for him, he’s gone,” Cybele took hold of her arms. “If they find you here you will be burned alive, we have to leave now.”

Taking her by the hand she led her out of the tomb and sealed the doors again before leading her back to where she had stashed the horses. Reaching into the bags on the horse Hera had brought she pulled out some more suitable clothes for her to wear and tossed them at Giulietta, who after some pressure from Cybele took off her funeral dress and threw on the other clothes. Cybele took the dress and folded it as best as she could and stuffed it into the bags, once they were ready they rode south away from Verona.


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Re: Highlander 1.4: A Rose by any other Name

January 2007

Juliet was smiling as Cybele finished her story of how the two had met; she had been devastated during the ride to Rome. It took her a long time to get over Romaeus’ death but Cybele had been there every step of the way until she was finally able to move on. In the years since, she had retold her tale a few times including to Matteo Bandello, who turned it into an Italian novella, then later to Arthur Brooke and William Shakespeare.

“So what ever happened to Marco?” Stacy asked

“Oh we got together for a while,” Cybele smiled into her drink.

“So what are you doing in Athens anyway?” Juliet took the focus off of her and the past.

“Hunting,” Cybele didn’t need to say anything more, both of them knew what that had meant. As Immortals you were either just living life or fighting when you needed to or you were a head hunter who lived the game and nothing more. Then there were those who only hunted when they needed to, usually in response to some threat or out of revenge.

“Anyone we might now?” Stacy chimed in.

“His name is Caleb Morgan,” Cybele placed the photo she had on the table for the two girls to see. “He was seen in Athens by the underground a month ago, which is about how long I’ve been here.”

“I can’t say I’ve seen him,” Stacy leaned back as Juliet took a look.

“Don’t think I know him,” Juliet handed the picture back.

“If you see him, let me know,” Cybele put the picture back into her pocket. “It’s time for me to go.”

“It was great seeing you,” Juliet hugged her mentor as the two stood up.
“Likewise,” Cybele replied. “It was good to meet you as well Stacy.”

“It was a pleasure,” Stacy shook the older woman’s hand and watched as she left the restaurant.

Several minutes later Stacy stepped out onto the roof of the building down the street after having parted ways with her own mentor. She could see the restaurant clearly and was still far enough way that an immortal wouldn’t feel another Immortal from here.

“Well Ms. Swearengen,” A male voice called out her original name, as Stacy felt the presence of the immortal she had come to see. “How was lunch?”

“It was nice,” Stacy picked up the binoculars that had been sitting on the ledge. “Mostly Cybele and Juliet catching up, telling me tales of how they met.”

“And what of Cybele?” the man said as he came up behind her.

“You were right,” Stacy put the binoculars down. “She is done waiting.”

“Very good,” he smiled coldly. “I have her full attention then, time for another message.”

“Who do you have in Mind?” Stacy couldn’t hide the worry in her voice as her thoughts turned to her mentor.

“Don’t worry, Juliet is safe,” he commented. “I have someone else in mind, someone who will send the right message to my friend.”

“Caleb,” Stacy turned around to look at the man, her face filled with horror as she saw his sword raised.

“There can be only one,” Caleb swung the sword and waited as the Quickning erupted.

The End…


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