Chapter Five - When I Find Myself In Times Of Trouble.....
Sidney paused a bit before speaking again.
"Connor--I'm not qualified to say who she truly was, beyond the woman I knew as Miryam-Bat-Joachim of Nazareth."
Macleod was a bit taken back.
"Sidney---you're The Wandering Jew. Who do I know that is better qualified to say who Mary was? Who her son was? You were actually there!"
Doctor Freedman knew that he had touched a nerve in the elder Highlander, one that could not be dismissed.
"When the star first appeared, I was summoned from my evening meal--which included an actual hen's egg--to meet the three leaders of the congregation of astrologer-princes with my master in the arts of Q'ab'la. It was that very night that my master gave me the stone that keeps others from sensing me, right off."
As Connor kept silent, Sidney continued.
"Two weeks later, as The Adoration began in Bethlehem, I was busy coaxing my littlest angel, Ebenia, that the night contained no monsters. Two weeks after that, The Horsemen came, seeking both The Child and their missing Fourth. I watched as Caspian hacked-----"
There was a very lost look from a pain that would never truly fade, and then Freedman regained himself.
"Kronos ran me through, and I awoke. I will not ever forget that scar-eyed fiend, as he made light of what he had done. Connor, I would resurrect The Kurgan to destroy him, if I could."
Connor briefly thought that perhaps Sidney's initial killer was a foeman of Duncan's, an outlaw he'd mentioned name of Koren. But for now, he listened to a tale he knew Sidney sometimes needed to retell.
"Well, they declared me a dead thing, and I was banished. You know the rest, as well. How I bribed a Roman soldier, set to wield the whip when Yeshua was arrested. How I exacted my hollow, misguided vengeance. But Connor-- I didn't stick around afterwards. I found out from one of us who had been an adopted relative of Yeshua's that The Horsemen had never truly been searching for the infant Yeshua. Neither he nor I could bear to return to Jerusalem, despite the rumors of Yeshua's survival. I was afraid that they were untrue. He--was afraid that perhaps they were."
Connor shook his head.
"Why would any relative of Christ's be afraid of his return?"
"Yeah, well. The man we're talking about had been called---Yossef Of Nazareth. Not the original, mind you. He passed on the flight to Egypt. But this new man had loved his adopted son, dearly. He feared seeing him alive again----"
"Only to possibly see him die again. Sid, you have to tell me. Was he---"
"My friend said no. So we both left for India, and even reached Cathay on a few occasions. Then, some long-ranging Christian converts told us that Miryam was ill. The man who had been Yossef felt he wished to be there for her. How he convinced me to go back with him I'll never know. He was--is--an old-timer."
"So how old are we talking?"
"Old? Well, he's kind of, sort of---"
NAZARETH, AD 50
"Soolaimon, will you stop looking about you? Even those who were children when you were first banished are likely dead now. So long as you do not show who you are, we are merely two travelers, come to pay our respects to a well-revered lady."
But Soolaimon-Ben-Moshe could no more forget his banishment than Connor Macleod ever would, over a thousand years hence.
"Methos, I am afraid. What if she does not want to see me?"
The Oldest tripped his companion, and threw him against a wall. He held him fast with one hand, despite his size.
"Methos....is a name you do not utter when we are in, or anywhere near, larger gatherings of people. As for the rest, she will see you. Because I will ask it of her. As the one who maintained her state of marriageability, I am owed as much."
The future Sidney brushed himself off.
"Apologies....Adam. But you say that you maintained her chastity, excluding what people have said of Yeshua? Surely, as a Horseman, you committed far worse depravities than violating such an agreement."
The Oldest sighed.
"Soolaimon, I am no longer what I was. Now, I wish to be as one unnoticed. One who would violate such an agreement would be very much noticed, don't you think? Also, I never had a greater delight than when the mid-wives examined her, after Yeshua was weaned. Suffice it to say that there was much more evidence for her claims than there was against. It shut some of those chatty village gossips right up, let me tell you. Further, she was a very young girl caring for myself and a small baby. Asking anything more of her seemed a certain way to drive her unto exhaustion. Finally---I liked her. She was a good girl. I treated her the way that I perhaps should have treated---"
Soolaimon let the conversation pass, knowing only that the mysterious Cassandra had been part of what began the change in the man who was once Mounted Death.
To a small but well-made house constructed by the true Yossef's grandfather they went, and together they went inside. There were young people around her with striking eyes, like Yeshua's. Feeling already out of place, Soolaimon did not ask whether they were perhaps also Miryam's children.
"Has my Yossef returned? Oh, do those strong arms hold me as I pass to see my son yet again?"
Her sight was gone. Her voice was failing. For all this, she seemed serene and happy. She didn't look that old, despite being past her three score and ten, an enviable age for just about anyone to reach. Belying the image of the primal barbarian of a mere century before, Methos took her hand, very gently in his own, and lightly kissed it. There was no mistaking the affection in his eyes.
"I have come back, my girl. Come back to honor she who took my moods and odd humours and all my night terrors and moved them far away with but a gentle look. The one whose hands by law never touched you, but whose eyes adored you."
"I pray you, let these wizened hands touch that strong face, this one last time."
And Soolaimon was shocked as tears came from that face, as her fingers merely brushed it. Miryam smiled.
"He awaits you as well. He has asked me when we are to expect you."
Methos had, right in front of his friend, mocked all manner of superstition and unthinking belief systems. But he did not do that then.
"Tell our Yeshua that I will be quite some time yet. I--may not be among the company he wishes to keep. And tell him that he should have let me fall in his place."
Her smile did not fade.
"Wisely, I will let my men settle that old argument. But who have you brought with you?"
Methos almost pushed Soolaimon over.
"Miryam, this is the Jew Of No House. He is The Wanderer. He flayed at Yeshua's back, before Golgotha. He has come to ask your forgiveness for his crimes of hate and blindness. They do not number as do my own. Will you grant him peace?"
Her smile did not fade, but became less pronounced.
"You who took a whip to my son. Do you think me as some do, a madskull who told her son stories, that to cover his origins in glory and angelism?"
Soolaimon shook his head.
"No, Lady Miryam. I believe---that you believe. I have seen the mad, and treated the mad, and you are not mad."
"Who was my son?"
He gulped hard, figuring his chance at forgiveness was done for. He answered what he saw as the truth.
"A good man whom I wrongly held to blame for the death of my wife and my daughters. I am sorry, Lady. But I am no longer certain that I even believe in The One, let alone a Messiah. But I should not have harmed your son. Of all those many souls who have proclaimed Anointment to huddled followers, he was the most like that one spoken Of Isaiah."
She took his hand.
"I tell you now to go in peace. There is no enmity between us. But I ask a small thing in exchange."
His own tears flowing freely, Soolaimon-Ben-Moshe said the only thing he could muster.
"Yes. Ask anything of me, Mother Miryam."
Her serene smile returned.
"Tell me of your girls. You see, we have both lost children, and that is a great pain and sorrow to bear. I, though, was more fortunate than you, poor thing. For it was that I received my child back."
Soolaimon-Ben-Moshe felt one weight fall off of his soul that day.
"Every cold morning, I would hear giggling, and feel my blankets being stolen. I could never punish them. They were my heart."
He spoke well into the early evening, and the Lady took in every word of joy and laughter. At her urging, The Wanderer Of No House stayed in Judaea and helped forge ties between Christian Jews and the older, more established sects. This he did until almost AD 100, when Roman machinations caused those ties to dissolve in fire.
Connor sat, too amazed for his usual bantering. He grasped Sidney's hand.
"To have been blessed by her--is a greater thing by far than any mere Prize."
Sidney found that the memories could still move him, two millenia on.
"People like to ask me who Yeshua and Miryam really were. I don't even know who I really am. So I just say---they were good, gentle people. That Is The Truth. Perhaps even The Greatest Truth."
Connor gathered himself, took a swig of coffee, and began again to speak of why he and Sidney were there.
"Hey, Sid---did I ever tell you that I'm really an alien from another planet?"
"You patients. Always holding back on your psychiatrists til the last minute."