Liliaeth (liliaeth) wrote,
Liliaeth
liliaeth

Old HL fic: The courtship of Maria (1/1)

Title: The courtship of Maria
Author: Lore Krajsman
Rating:PG13
Show: Highlander
Summary: A Kurgan love story
Series? prequel to Kurgan Righteous Vengeance
Feedback: Do you even have to ask? ( liliaeth@hotmail.com )
Archive: Please archive, the more people that can read it, the more I'd like it.
Notes: I just love the Kurgan so I decided to write some stories about him






*** 1913 ***



The last bits of Quickening hit the Kurgan as he held his broadsword in front of him, smirking grimly as he stood over his last victim's headless body. The woman's black head had rolled out of sight. The Kurgan could still feel the Quickening's energy course through him, caressing him with all the power and knowledge the woman had assembled in her five centuries of life. He seemed almost incapable of keeping himself still, hyper with the power. There was nothing in the universe quite like it.

He wiped his bloodied blade clean on some part of the victim's dress before throwing the corpse in a shallow grave. The head seemed to have gotten stuck under a log. He gave it a quick kick and pulled it out. The woman's dead eyes stood wide open in disbelief. She'd been pretty; you could see that even now, looking at her remains. The Kurgan just threw the head in with the body. He picked up the woman's sword: a beautiful Katana. He'd get rid of it later. After he'd eaten. The black stains of blood didn't show on his dark shirt and pants. First, he placed his hat back on his head before he picked up his coat and placed the dismantled pieces of his sword inside it.

His entire body bristled with the power he'd just received and he could barely restrain himself as he raced towards town. His strong muscled hands held on to the reins of his horse and he scared many with his reckless use of the road.

He stopped brusquely right in front of the local diner, barely in time to prevent him from riding over an elderly lady that was heading for her horse and carriage. His horse reared up over her. She had to scramble out of the way and was just about to lift her fist at him when she noticed the look in his eyes and wisely decided to back down.

He barged the door wide open, his wide frame pulling attention by keeping the sun out. He stood there for a while, as if inspecting who was inside.

Suddenly, he was shoved forwards.

"Sorry mister, but this thing's way too heavy to wait for your posturing."

He turned around, ready to fume out in rage. The young woman stood there, still waiting for him to let her through. She was carrying a big crate with vegetables and bottles inside. Anger raged in his deep, dark eyes, his muscles tensed as he stood ready to fall out against the woman who'd dared speak up to him. He literally towered over her, but she didn't even seem to notice.
"If you plan on standing in the way, you might as well help." Before he could even do or say anything, she placed the crate in his arms.

His mouth fell open in confusion. Her voice was soft and businesslike, but he couldn't find a thing to say. How dare this ... this woman tell him what to do? He was the Kurgan, the mightiest warrior on the face of the planet. And he certainly wasn't anybody's servant, definitely not some mortal woman's. But, then she looked up at him with such resolve in her eyes that he couldn't say anything he'd planned to say and just followed her to the back, carrying the box in.

"You ..." For the first time in his life, he couldn't find the words. "What the hell."

She looked at him and frowned. He put his hand to his neck. If looks could cut, that one would have taken his head right off.

He was downtrodden as he sat down at a table. What was wrong with him? He stared after the woman... she wasn't pretty. The woman he'd just killed was a lot better-- looking than her. Not to mention that he'd seen thousands of women prettier than her. Not that she was ugly; she was just so ... plain. A bit small compared to his usual taste of women. Her face seemed somewhat uneven and her nose was just a slight bit too big, but not enough to pull attention.

Her black hair surrounded her face in thick, somewhat greasy strands, constantly escaping its confines of hairpins and mostly tied together in a knot behind her head. There were some Indian traits in her face: the way her eyes stood, her slightly darker skin tone.

That was the only thing about her that really stood out--her eyes. Deep brown to rival that of his own. Despite all that, he couldn't stop himself from looking at her. His eyes pulled to her at every instance. There was something familiar about her. A memory that just wouldn't show itself. Something old.





*** 988 BC ***



Gerinn was lying on his back. Looking at the sky. The sheep could take care of themselves for a while. Still, he made sure to keep his bow right beside him, ready to pick it up if his father decided to show up. His body, but mostly his face, still felt sore from the last time his father had caught him unaware. At 15, the young Kurgan had faced his father's rage a few times too many to just push it away.

Gerinn knew his father hated him. Each time he saw him, the man seemed reminded of the fact that the boy the tribe called his son, was just a foundling. That his wife had been unable to give birth to anything but a couple of stillborns. The only time he paid 'his son' any attention was to show him his flaws. To tell him how unworthy he was of being a Kurgan, a warrior. To beat him up for the most minor mistake. If it hadn't been for the high mortality rate the tribes newborns suffered, the man wouldn't even have considered letting his wife keep the baby.

Suddenly a burst of knowledge shot through his mind.

Dabella. Her sweet presence announced itself. First as a ripple, then increasing more and more in strength, until it became an unstoppable wave. She was the only one who understood him. The only one he'd been able to tell about the voices he heard in his head, the constant shouting that happened in his mind.

He smiled and waited for her to play their usual game. Not letting her know that he'd been aware of her arrival since she'd set foot in the field. Suddenly, she threw her hands in front of his eyes. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her around front. Bringing her mouth to his own.



*** 1913 ***

"Dabella!"

He took another look at the mortal. She looked like a mirror image of his Dabella. Sure, Dabella, when she'd lived, had had brown hair instead of black, but aside of that, the two women could have been twins. If both woman hadn't been mortal, he might have thought they were the same one.

He stared at her as she worked, a strange desire to be with her overwhelming him. She, on the other hand, only had eyes for her work. She didn't pay him any mind.

He wasn't sure why, but he had to have her. No matter what.

Patiently, he waited behind his table. Waiting for her to leave. But she didn't; her shift had only just started, it seemed. Then, after a few hours, he decided to just wait until she had to get out of sight for a second. But she didn't. It was her brother who set out the trash. Janos, she called the boy. The child didn't look like if he could stand in his way.

The Kurgan grew more and more impatient. He just had to have her. It was the only way he could get rid of the feelings that kept invading his mind. But she just wouldn't leave.

The Quickening stirred up inside him. Its sensations coming up more and more. "Take her" it said "To hell with the consequences." He didn't want to be controlled by it.
Stronger and stronger, the voice grew in his mind. "Take her, who can stop you? You're the Kurgan."

He grabbed his head for a second, remembering times in the past when he'd raped women in front of their kin and seen that same kin shiver in fear. Too frozen by their terror of him to do anything. Yet he didn't want to give in. Raping her here would only cause attention to fall on him. Attention which he couldn't handle, yet. It would be too much of a hindrance.

Then she came to his table. Her hand only a few inches of his own. He grabbed it, unable to stop the voice of the Quickening any longer. She just slapped him in the face.

"What do you think you're doing?" She whispered without a shred of emotion. He grabbed at her, but she kicked him in the crotch. She stood ice-still, her face cold with not even a single shred of fear in her eyes. Didn't she understand what he could do to her?

"I don't do sex with pigs." she said, pronouncing the words as slowly as possible as if he were some sort of retard that wouldn't get the message otherwise.

The Kurgan was completely dumbfounded. This tiny bit of a woman had no respect for him whatsoever. His eyes fell on her, rage dripping out of them in his stare. His neck seemed even thicker, the muscles completely tensed up. Yet nothing seemed to rattle her.

"You're nothing." he stated in a voice that made most customers whimper down in fear.

"I am Maria Theresia Josefa Banasik, and you, mister, better keep your filthy paws to yourself if you want to keep them." Then, she gave him a smile and turned her back to him, dismissing him as filth and showing her total lack of interest in what he might or might not do.

There he was, standing a good 7 ft tall. A giant amongst men, even in present day terms, his face covered with the scars of battle. He who made grown men wet themselves in fear, and yet, this small woman dismissed him out of hand. Was she just stupid or was she crazy? It had to be either one. (or both for that matter)

He looked after her and smiled. Several people in the diner pulled out their money, left their meals behind half--eaten and ran out as fast as they could, but she, she just turned back, looked him in the eyes and returned his smile.

Then, in a voice sounding like honey : "Have you ever considered seeing a dentist about those teeth? We've got a pretty good one here in town."

The Kurgans mouth fell open in shock.

He slowly left the diner, his mouth still open. He didn't even notice it. His mind was a rage of confusion. For a few brief moments, he couldn't even stop the voices from barging in on him. What was happening here? Had he completely lost control? It should have been so simple. He should have grabbed her and taken her right then and there. Show her who was the boss, who held the power. Damn the witnesses.

So, why couldn't he?

******

He left his horse at the local barnyard and walked over to the nearest motel, planning to leave as soon as he could the next morning. He just threw money at the counter and signed himself in as Gerald Kruger.

Once in his room, he threw his bags on the bed before sitting down himself. He looked at his hands, thinking about the power they held. Power over life and death. Why couldn't he just kill the woman? He'd killed people for much less reason than she'd given him.

Was it just the way she looked like Dabella and was that reason enough?

He stood up and headed for the mirror, opening the faucet and splashing water across his face. Some of it splashed on his face, making his long hair stick.

As he looked in the mirror, his eyes faded back to memories.





*** 988 BC ***

Gerinn scrambled himself up from the ground and patted his tunic to get the stains and sand off. Dabella brushed her hands through his locks, pulling out some weeds that had gotten caught up in it.

"You'll have to leave. My father'll probably show up to check on me and if he finds you here ..." she nodded in agreement. Gerinn's father was known all through the tribe to be a harsh and unforgiving man. She shivered slightly. Gerinn looked at her, his face showing concern.

"What's wrong?"

"My father." She hesitated for a second. "He's planning to marry me out."

Gerinn took a deep breath. If the man planned to do that, it was unlikely he'd let her marry him, a foundling.

And once she was married, there'd be no more hope for them.

His eyes followed her over the hills as she left, headed back to town. He sat down, leaning his back against a tree, while watching his fathers sheep. The sky seemed so full tonight. So many lights. There was just so much he didn't know. So much that he could not touch.

His eyes slowly started closing.

Suddenly, he woke up in pain as a hand grabbed him up by his hair. A hard fist hit his face and he crashed on the ground. He looked up to see his father's foot coming down on him, hitting his head once again. Drops of blood slipped down over his forehead and onto his nose.

"What the hell do you think you were doing , you lazy, worthless bit of shit? Can't I even ask you something this simple? Are you that stupid?!" His hard words hit the young Kurgan harder than his fists. The man once again hit the boy's head as the boy lay crumbled on the ground.

Gerinn tried to get up but his father kicked him back into the dirt.

The giant Kurgan stood, towering, over his son. A grim leer on his face, waiting to hear his son beg him to stop, so he could hurt him some more. Gerinn knew this and stopped himself from even looking at the man pleadingly. Endure and it will end, was all he could think. His father got impatient, so he placed his foot on the boy's stomach; putting his weight on it, to make it worse. Then he grabbed the boy up by the hair, pulling him closer as the boy tried to crawl away from him.

"You're a no good loser, boy. You'll never be good for anything. And you dare call yourself a Kurgan? You're nothing but a waste of air, nothing. Even your real parents knew what you were, why else would they have thrown you away? I should have been smarter than to ever take you in."

Gerinn looked up at him. His stomach hurt from where his father had just kicked him. He didn't even want to think about the pain in his head. Still, he showed no fear, no sign that what his father was doing affected him. Fear could only cause pain.

"What are you thinking of, boy? Trying to get away from me? That whore again? She's nothing but a cheap piece of flesh and still she's worth more than you'll ever be. You'll never have what it takes to be a Kurgan. Never!"

"No!" Too much was too much. Gerinn just couldn't stop himself.
"You're wrong. She loves me."

The older Kurgan spit in his face.

"Why would she? You're nothing but a loser. You're not even a good fuck, even worse than your mother was, the slut. Gerinn looked away from his father, trying to keep from trembling. "Coward. You haven't even got enough of a spine to stand up for yourself."

Something in Gerinn broke, his hands clutched at the nearest object he could grab and he used it to hit his father. The stone came down, falling against another tree as he stood, watching, over the still body. Looking at the blood streaming from his father's face. His mouth was wide open. What had he done? Then he made a run for it.





*** 1913 ***



It was the third day in a row that he started his day in the diner, looking at Maria. Today, she was wearing a nice red dress with short sleeves. The bodice was cut high, giving him close to no sight of her breasts, other than what showed through her form. She wasn't wearing any make up, not even some eyeliner or mascara. Her lips were a nice, natural red , compared to and complimenting her darker skin. He'd seen her hands before, when she brought his coffee. She wasn't wearing any rings either. Only a small silver bracelet on her wrist and even that seemed more of a private thing than something to adorn herself. Even her shoes were obviously chosen more with comfort in mind than anything else.

While waiting for his steak, the Kurgan checked out the other clients. Nobody really stuck out. A few farmers, in town for supplies.

A pretty lady who kept chattering on and on about Boston and looked at him as if he were the kind of filth she had to wipe from under her shoes. The Kurgan almost pitied her husband, who seemed to be in pain, listening to his wife's silly chatter. Her face seemed painted as if trying to hide her aging, trying to keep a few last shreds of youth. The kind of youth that a woman like Maria would keep for the rest of her life. There was no fire in her eyes. She didn't even have the confidence a frail woman like Maria possessed in full, especially while handling a bunch of cowboys with the same ease she'd done him. All the painted woman had was the kind of arrogance often possessed by those overcome by their own self importance. Just because her husband was a banker. Something inside him bristled when she'd started insulting Maria, where the young woman could hear it.

"How dare they let those half-bloods run around amongst decent white Christians. They're nothing but a bunch of Indian savages."
Maria didn't even bother to respond to it. All she did was place her hand on her brothers arm, stopping him from any kind of reaction.

The diner's owner, the widow Higgins, didn't say a thing to the young siblings' defense--not planning to scare away her best customers.

When the two left, the Kurgan followed after them. He went to pick up his horse and followed the couples' car tracks. Almost as soon as the two left sight of town, he raced up to them. He let his horse rear up right in front of the man's Ford, just far enough from it to avoid being run over.

The man braked as fast as he could, running his car off the road and almost hitting a tree. The Kurgan went up to the door and pulled it off its hinges. His face held a hideous smirk and his white scars reflecting the light of the sun from his face.

The woman screamed when she saw him standing there. He pulled her out with one hand. She tried hitting his head and getting away, but he grabbed her wrists with one hand, making a show of brushing his lips with his tongue.

"Let her go. You ... fiend"

The Kurgan broke out in laughter at the man's attempted brave behavior. He threw the woman against a tree and turned his attention to the man.

He didn't say a word as he came up to the man and broke his neck with a single twist. Kicking the corpse out of the way, he headed back to the woman. She was yammering about her hair, her weakling of a husband ... but when she saw what he'd done, she started threatening him with her family's influence in Boston. All that, of course, didn't mean a thing to the Kurgan. As if he hadn't heard a word she said, he spoke his first word to the woman.
"Now you've got a few options. Either I rape you now, and kill you quickly or you fight, I'll beat you up, take you anyway and then kill you as slowly as I am capable of . Take your pick."

The woman screamed and tried to run away. He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her towards him. His wet tongue went over her face up to her neck.

"Oh, we are going to have so much fun together."

All the woman did was scream.





*** 979 BC ***



Dust flew up across the tundra as the small caravan headed over to the small settlement. There were only few women amongst them. The spoils of war.

The young Kurgan smiled as he watched his troop. He'd joined the group of raiders years ago when he'd been a boy and although he'd been forced to prove himself to them, he'd quickly risen in their ranks. When he'd defeated and killed Amer, the group's last leader, the others had asked him to take over command. Not that any would have dared to say otherwise.

He'd grown tall and strong, his arms wide and muscled. His chest covered with a bronze chestplate, stood as wide as that of two normal men. The Kurgan made an impressive sight as he rode his horse over the tundra and many of the local tribes feared his troop.

Today, though, would be both the same and completely different from any other raid. The small settlement in front of them was the one he'd grown up in. The one he'd been forced to run away from. Then, he'd been afraid, but now he'd show them how strong he'd become. He'd let them see who truly held the power. And it wouldn't be them with their tame lives and herds.

He ordered a few of his men to stay behind with the caravan and the women while he and the rest of his group rode into town. The group threw up a lot of dust and a couple of meager children playing just outside of the camp could see them coming a mile away.

The group knew this, but they weren't bothered by it. What did they have to fear from a group of sheep-herders? Gerinn glanced at his men. They understood, the children wouldn't be harmed. Not needlessly, at least.

At first, the raid seemed to go as it always did. The nomads tried to put up a defense, but as the young Kurgan had begun to expect, their defenses weren't much compared to the might of a bunch of well-fed mounted raiders.

Gerinn rode at the head of his troop. His ride was suddenly, brutally stopped when he came opposed to the man he'd once called father. The man seemed so much smaller than he had when he was younger. He leaned on a walking stick and his hair had turned gray. Sill, the man stood firm, not showing even the slightest bit of fear. That enraged Gerinn even more. How could the man not fear him?

He pulled of his helmet, revealing his face.



He didn't say a word. The man looked at his son in rage, "You!" yet it failed to frighten the younger Kurgan. The man seemed smaller somehow. Less imposing. He'd turned into a trembling old man who had little in common with the memories haunting Gerinns nightmares.

"Is this the best you can do loser." the man shouted at him.
Gerinn was just about ready to kill him when a heavy brick hit the side of his face. He went down in the dust. Trying to scramble up.

"You're a failure. No matter what you do." he heard his father say. "Can't even kill an old man."





*** 1913 ***

The Kurgan looked down at the woman's body. He crushed its skull with his heavy boot. The rape had done nothing to him. Even less than usual. He crunched his fingers. Damn what could he do now. If the sheriff found these corpses he'd have to leave. And he wasn't ready to go. Not just yet.
Leaving town would mean 'No more Maria'.

Suddenly it hit him. He didn't want to leave because of a woman? Why should that stop him? It never had before. He could find hundreds of women anywhere else.
'But not Maria.' The little voice inside his head insisted.
When he thought about her, something inside him moved to it. A kind of sensation he hadn't felt in ages. Literally.
Could it be ... love?
He had to leave this town. This deadtrap. Love was a weakness. The best thing for him to do was to leave as soon as possible, to get the hell away from that bitch before she became his weakness.

"No!" He yelled out the word. "I will have her and once I do, she'll be just like all the others. I will not be scared away by a woman."

The Dark Knight dragged both corpses to the car, careful to make it seem as if they'd died inside it. He closed the carport and loosened the handbrake.

He took one last check at his work before he finished the job by pushing the car of the hill. It went down fast, not even stopping before it hit a tree and ignited in flames. He didn't leave before the car was turned into a smoldering wreck, grinning over his work.







*** 979 BC ***



Gerinn woke up in a feeling of pain. His body seemed to be screaming it out at every nerve point. He opened his eyes in the burning sunlight. At first his sight was a bit hazy. But soon the image clarified. To see the stunned faces of the villagers as they looked at the demon in their midst. "What happened?" he wanted to ask. "Why are you looking at me like that?" He didn't see the state of his body. The wounds covering every part of it.

The village had just seen him killed. His corpse humiliated, dragged and stepped on by horses. They'd taken his armor and shared it amongst the strongest warriors and his body had seemed black through the blood pouring from his wounds.

They'd thought him dead, and were ready to feast their victory, when the corpse suddenly sat up amidst them. Gerinn looked at them, not understanding what had happened.
Before he could get a grip on himself, one of the men he'd grown up with, picked a stone and threw it at him. The others followed the young warriors example. Hitting him with everything they could get their hands on. Shooting him full with arrows.

It was a battered and broken body that was left behind as Gerinn died his second death that day. The last thing that caught the young Kurgans eyes was a young woman who kneeled over him as the others had already left. Leaving his body to bleed to death in the dust. To scared to touch it out of fear of facing evil gods or whatever demon had taken over the corpse.





*** 1913 ***



The Kurgan watched as Maria folded her sheets. He stood half hidden behind the corner so she wouldn't notice him to soon. He'd been watching him for a while. He ducked back some more as she looked up in his way and smiled. She couldn't have seen him, could she?

He took a few more steps back and headed of to the stables. His stallion roared as it smelled his approach. He yelled back to it. The stable-owner looked at him in shock. He must have seemed like a madman to him. The Kurgan didn't care. He wasn't like those lesser men who had to care about what other people thought.

"Why were you watching me?"

He turned around to face the voice. Maria stood in the door. She was leaning slightly against the doorpost. Her blue dress waved freely on her legs.
"Why not?"
He took a step in her direction. She didn't shriek, didn't try to avoid him. He grinned ferociously. "You're a beautiful woman Maria Theresia Josefa Banasik. Why shouldn't a man be watching you."

The woman grumped at that lie.
"Well stop it."

She turned around and left the stables. Her steps were confident. She'd said what she wanted to say and her business with him was finished . The stable owner had been staring at the scene and the Kurgan glared in his direction. The Dark knight had hold himself in. He wanted to kill the man on the spot. Control. He controlled his emotions, his passions, they did not control him. He gave the stallion another look and left.



****



He held the flowers as if they were filth. The mere thought of what he was doing sickened him.
"Woman want flowers." his landlady had told him. "And expensive gifts." At his snort she went on. "They want men to fall at their feet to adore them."

It took him his last bit of effort to keep from throwing the things on the table and marching straight out. "For you." He said bruskly, holding the flowers up to her.

She looked at him and broke out in laughter. "You're kidding right?"
The Kurgan tried to keep up appearance, to pretend that her words meant nothing. But the mocking was intollerable. He turned around and almost fled out of the diner. It wasn't untill he'd almost reached the end of the street that he stopped.

"She's mocking me. I'm making a fool of myself. Why?
It's not like if she's worth it?"
He turned around and headed back. Ready to burst in through the door and speak his mind to the bitch. Then he stopped. She was arranging the flowers in a glass vase. Holding every flower separately. Taking care in her touch. as she settled them by color and height. The white roses in the middle. Brushing her fingers along the petals. It was simply beautiful.
His mouth stood wide open. Then he shook it of. His plan had worked.

The next day he gave her a shawl he'd had made by the seamstress. She was wearing it when he came in for diner that evening. Every morning that week he left her a present. At first she just laughed at his rude demeanor. Yet she never mocked him again, nor did she refuse his gifts. Her smile was his only reward.



******



Finally at Friday night he thought he'd done enough. He went up to the diner dressed in his usual black shirt covered with stains he obtained through the week. His face was partly covered with grime from the road since he'd just made a second ride through the area. Checking if there were any more immortals in the neighborhood. His boots were almost invisible due to the mud covering them up.

His face stood grim and he sat down, knocking on the table to catch the old widows attention. Demanding his beer and a meal. The woman took one look at him and shivered. Now where was Maria? He sat there for another hour, waiting for her. Finally he stood up, grabbing her brothers arm.

"Where is she?" The boy didn't even have to ask whom he was talking about.

"It's her day of." The boy stammered out.
"She's at home. With dad."

The Kurgan dropped him on the ground and burst out of the diner. Why the hell wasn't she where she was supposed to be. She was supposed to be at the diner so he could ask her out. That was the way things were supposed to be. She wasn't supposed to be at home on a time like this.



*** 979 BC ***

7Gerinn opened his eyes. The pain was less than it had been before. He looked up at the same dark haired face he'd seen before. Who was this woman. She was wiping a wet piece of cloth over his face, cleaning up the blood and dirt. Doing it with such a kindness. She didn't seem bothered by his sudden awaking, and kept on with her work It wasn't until he caught her eyes that he recognized who she was. "Dabella".

It wasn't 'til she looked up at him that he realized he'd said it aloud.
"Dabella?" He asked softly.
"Is it really you?"
She nodded. He wondered why she didn't speak.
"What's wrong?"
She went to her neck and pulled away the collar covering it up.
It was then that he saw the scars around her neck. Someone had tried to strangle her. Hurt her.
"Gods. Why?"
She smiled and touched his skin. Not really answering him. It didn't matter to her, so why should it matter to him? But it did matter.

Gerinn hadn't yet recovered enough to get up. He leaned up a bit, trying to get a bit more defensive, even though all he was wearing was a tunica he hadn't had on before. She nestled up against him. He pulled his fingers through her beautiful hair. It had been cut into that of a married woman. The way she acted about the scars, her husband had probably been responsible. But what kind of man could ever do that to his wife. He didn't have to look all that far. Memories of his mother as his father let loose one of his drunken rages, were all to near.
"Nobody would ever harm her like that again." He promised. Both to himself and to the Gods.
"But what happened to me?"
Dabella shrugged. It didn't matter to her either. All that mattered was that he was here, with her. He'd returned.

"Gerinn." The word seemed to hurt her as she dragged it out. "Stay Please."
He nodded and pulled her in his arms, kissing her on her forehead.
"Don't worry sweetheart, no one will make me go."
As if to deny his words the door suddenly shot open. At the top of the stairs Gerinn could see his father standing, watching them with disgust.

"Monster." the man hissed. "And you." The man turned to Dabella.





*** 1913 ***



It seemed as if nothing moved as he rode up to Maria's home. There was a dark aura of anger hanging around him. All life seemed to notice it and hide, except for one. Maria stood waiting at the front gate as if she'd been expecting him. Of course she hadn't. She was just cleaning the windows at the front of the home. But the Kurgan didn't see it that way. He dismounted and headed up to her.
She didn't even turn around. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her towards him. She didn't scream. Instead she stated a simple demand. "Put me down. Now."

He looked at her and let her loose.
"What the hell do you think you were doing."

"What do you think I was doing?"

She stared at him. "What? You think that because you buy me a couple of trinkets that that means you own me? I'm not some cheap whore, you can buy like that. She pulled of the earrings he'd given her earlier that week. "Here. If you want you can have the rest of it back as well."

The Kurgan stood baffled.
"Nobody refuses me." he hissed.

"Want to bet?" Maria turned him her back and left him. The earrings were still lying on the ground. The Kurgan hit his boot on them, breaking them loudly.
"How dare she?"



******



It soon became a struggle of wills. The Kurgan kept trying to buy her things, but she wouldn't accept them. Not any more.
Each time he offered her a drink, she pretended she didn't even hear him. To the Kurgans proud heart it was a stroke that was hard to overcome. If the diners other clients hadn't been so scared of the Dark Knight they would have thought the scenes entertaining.
The big giant and the smallish woman, yet they seemed evenly matched.

He stood there, looking at her, almost drooling. Yet she never paid him any attention and he just couldn't understand why.



*******



"Why do you think she won't pay you any mind." The woman patted on his chest as she said the words. "Just look at yourself. You're filthy, you smell and most of all... when was the last time you bathed. How can you expect any woman to fall for you."

The Kurgan looked at her as if she'd lost her mind. He'd gone to his landlady with the question and she showed once again that even his great strength didn't impress the woman. If she wasn't so useful, he'd trample her under his soles. "A bath?" he asked.

"Yes, a bath. As in water and soap. And you come out of it, smelling less like a mestpile and more like a human being."

The Kurgan left without even thanking her. Why should he thank anyone for anything anyway?
"A bath?" he mumbled. "Sure."

He took a ride to the nearest stream. It was warm and dust clung on to him.
He put his clothes on the sand next to the water and stepped in. Allowing the cold water of the running stream to cleanse him. He submerged completely and came out looking like a drowned rat. The muscles of his body tensed under the freezing cold of winter. A couple of cowboys who noticed him, quickly looked away when he returned their gaze.
He took his long black hair in his hands and wrung the water out of it. Allowing the little sun there was to dry his body. Then he looked at the clothes and threw them in the water as well. Long memories of looking after himself had taught him how to clean his own stuff. He took a clean white rock and started smashing the dirt out of the shirt. By the time he was ready, the shirt had lost some of its color, but its smell had reached a much more tolerable density.

He looked at himself in the water. His beard was tangled up in knots, just like his hair.
Trying to look at himself like a woman would see him, he made a quick decision.
The barber shivered when his customer came in and sat down without a word. The man scratched his head for a second and took his scissors without a second of hesitation. Almost all of the Kurgans hair was cut of. Soon he left the place with little more than a buzzcut, not even a mustache decorated his face. Even the dark knight himself barely recognized the man looking back at him in the mirror. All that remained was the wild look in his eyes.

It was that man that entered the store, taking out some of the most expensive shirts and pants. He couldn't believe how uncomfortable the restraining vehements made him feel. That bitch better be worth it.



*** 979 BC ***



Gerinn stared at his fathers eyes. The hate displayed in them. In all his life he couldn't remember a moment when the hate hadn't been there. He looked at the way his father looked at Dabella and he knew without the words being said that she was his fathers wife now. He'd been the one to beat her like this, to torment her.
Never again. He got up despite the pain, despite his weakness and stood up. Towering over the man like the man had once stood over him. He deeply remembered all the times his father had hurt him, with his fists, his feet, his words. All the things that man had done to him. And all that rage assembled in his fists.

The Kurgan stood over him. He had the higher ground, yet he was helpless at the same time. Gerinn allowed to release his rage in one blow and the man fell down. The younger Kurgan looked at his fathers body. Had he killed him? He tried to tilt it with his foot. The old man grabbed it before Gerinn could get out of the way. He could see Dabella shivering in the back, terrified of the man in front of them. "No more. No more weakness."
He started hitting the old man and before he knew it there was nothing more left but a bloody mess. It took Dabella to calm him down. Her small hand on his shoulder. She didn't need to say a word, her touch was enough. His father was already dead anyway.



*** 1913 ***

When Maria saw him, her mouth fell open and she started laughing.
"Oh my god. You have got to be kidding."

The Kurgan looked at himself. "What?"

"You're crazy."

"Most likely. But I want you woman. And I will have you."

Maria looked at him, her eyes filled with disbelief. She turned around and left him standing in the middle of the diner. The Kurgan rose out and grabbed her arm.
"Hey, I'm talking to you."

"Why? So you can go joke to your friends that you've bagged yourself the halfblood. I'm not into your games mister."

"No you're not. But with you I'm not playing any 'Games'. I want you.
Do you think this is some kind of joke to me."

His eyes pierced her in place. She looked at him and for the first time since they met she trembled.

"Then why?"

"I ..." Even the Kurgan didn't know what to say. He stood there with a mouth filled with teeth, wondering what the hell he could tell her to make her believe him. "I like you. I want to ... be with you. Isn't that enough?"

At that moment he looked at her with such longing, even he didn't know how many of his emotions played over his features. There was lust of course, but it wasn't just that. His face betrayed what even he didn't know yet.

And as Maria looked at him, her own smile melted slighted.
"Maybe."

*****

That next sunday the Kurgan was allowed to accompany Maria to the town's fair. He arrived exactly on time. Fighting with the bowtie around his neck. Feeling twitchy and uncomfortable in yet another new suit. His new boots scraped his feet.
He was cursing himself for going through with this nonsense.
But then Maria left her home and his eyes fell on her. A teasing smile played across her face. He didn't even see her dress. Though she would later tell him it was the star of the dance. If anyone would ask him later what had happened he could never answer them. All he'd ever remember would be her smile and her eyes. Everything else simply disappeared.

The townies looked at the blossoming romance with approval. The stranger kept their sons away from the halfblood and because of her a potentially dangerous man was tamed. Not that they'd ever say that to his face. But he could see it in their faces. Some of them were so self-satisfied that he had to fight the urge to kill them for it.




*** Weeks later ***



The Kurgan put his hands on Maria's shoulders. She didn't resist. He pulled her towards him and she didn't stop him. She let his kiss touch her mouth, his hands going over her and still she didn't stop him.
"Can I?" was all he asked, she just nodded and let herself be taken along to the ground next to the stream.

The Kurgan didn't know what it was. His hands softly touched her breasts. The act was slower than it had been since as long as he could remember, yet when he looked in her eyes and they both came to a joining he got a feeling of satisfaction like none he'd ever experienced since the death of Dabella.

Her eyes caught his and the dark knight knew that he was imprisoned as securely as if she'd been using chains made of irons. He knew he had to run, to lose this weakness but her touch sent something coursing through him, something that made him feel more alive than even the most powerful Quickening.

He just lay back and stayed the night. A smile of contentement covering his scarred and warted face.

And as he stood across the altar, saying his vows to the woman that had captured his heart his mind went back to that day so long ago when he and Dabella had made their way to the world.

A new journey had begun and he promised himself to make the most of it for as long as it would last.



The Beginning
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