“Damn it Warren.” Richie held his arm where a shallow cut had sliced through his favorite shirt. “Sorry Rich.” He replied sheepishly as he readjusted his sweaty grip on his falchion. Richard Ryan smiled in spite of himself as he held his hand back to reveal the sliced and slightly bloody sleeve. His arm had completely healed over, though he rubbed it as though it still itched. Warren was grateful to have found a teacher, even if Richie claimed he was too young to be of much help. Even so, he had Duncan McLeod and several other old and powerful immortals who had taught him. Warren had no such teacher; in fact he didn’t even know he was an immortal until Richie showed up a few months ago. Partly out of frustration, and also out of fear, Warren had packed up his meager belongings and fled his home town. He traveled without a destination for weeks. After running away from dozens of immortals, he’d found himself in a small mountain town in Colorado. People were friendly to him to here. A local garage owner offered him a job changing oil and working in the attached gas station and he found a kind lady who offered him an old apartment above her diner. Warren wasn’t ready to be an immortal though. He was still grieving his dead wife. The day he became immortal was burnt into his memories and not only for the monumental discovery of his immortality. It was more to do with the way he’d become immortal. He and his young bride had just rented their first apartment and while she attended her college classes, Warren was working at his construction job. They both knew the apartment complex was poorly taken care of but it was all they could afford. Mary was an orphan and being accepted into college was something she had always dreamed of. Warren on the other hand, while an orphan as well, had no such aspirations. He was happy building things, it fulfilled him in ways he couldn’t put into words. Still, they didn’t have much money and moved into the nicest apartment they could afford. That wasn’t saying much really. The fascia was pealing off the exterior of the building, windows didn’t close properly and the hot water often cut out without warning. The neighborhood was good though. There were no rats or cockroaches either, so they counted their blessings. The night Warren had become immortal he had come home late, having worked a few hours of overtime because Mary had a night class. In retrospect, something felt odd when he walked up the cracked sidewalk to his apartment complex. He wrapped his hand around the smooth metal of the door handle and pulled the door to the complex open. Warren took a step forward and was blown backwards by an ear shattering explosion. When he woke up, fire trucks were gathered around the street and back alley. They flooded the apartment complex with water as a raging inferno engulfed the building. It only took a moment for Warren to realize what was going on and he ran towards the building. A shocked police officer tackled him, and with the help of three others, they managed to drag him back to the cruiser where they tried to calm him down. Tears welled up in Warren’s eyes as he remembered the statement he’d given back at the police district and the eventual insurance payoff that came from Mary’s life insurance policy. He’d even settled out of court with his crooked landlord. Warren just wanted to put the whole fiasco behind him, but Mary’s face appeared often and he was haunted by his love for her. “Warren!” Richie shouted, grabbing his shoulders. “Sorry Rich” Warren stammered, using his free hand to wipe away the gathering tears. “I think we’ll call it a day early, pal.” Richie said empathetically, patting him on the shoulders. Warren could only nod dumbly, still wrapped up in his memories. He went back to the room he rented above a local diner and had a hot shower, washing away the sweat from his workout with Richie. No matter how hot the water was though, he couldn’t wash away the memories that still occupied his mind. * A few weeks after he’d buried the charred remains of his wife, Warren had been attacked just outside of a movie theater by some psycho with a sword. A large group of people had stepped in and saved his life, chasing off the nut job and rushing Warren to the hospital. Half-way there he came to his senses and found that all of the cuts and broken bones had somehow mended themselves. When they dropped him off at the hospital emergency room, he’d walked right past the registration desk and out the front door. Outside, he was stopped by an odd woman who claimed that she wanted to be his teacher. Warren was all too familiar with older women from his days in foster care and quickly turned her down. In retrospect, she could have saved him a lot of time and fear. At the time Warren hadn’t realized he was immortal, as she was. He wasn’t ready at that point anyway; the pain was still too new and ate away at his heart every day. Months later, working at the gas station, Warren was suddenly struck by another of his strange headaches. He had been filling up the gas tank of a motorcycle when the owner introduced himself while reaching into a pack on the back of his bike. “My name is Richie Ryan.” He announced. “Warren Delmage.” He’d replied, extending his hand. With a confused look, Richie took his offered hand. Warren continued to fill up his tank, thinking nothing of the exchange. Strangers often reacted this way to his friendly nature. Despite the pain he’d gone through in his life, Warren was just a likable work horse. “You have no idea what you are, do you?” Richie asked, leaning against his bike. “Sorry?” Warren replied, now showing his confusion. Richie laughed, looking around to see who could overhear him. “You’re immortal.” He said with an infectious smile. “Listen man, I think you’ve been on the road too much.” Warren said, shaking his head. “Maybe you should slow down for a bit, huh?” “Maybe.” He said with a wider smile as he followed Warren into the gas station. “How much do I owe ya?” “$18” Warren announced. Richie tossed a twenty down on the counter. Ehen Warren picked it up; Richie grabbed his wrist and pulled him forward. Warren felt as though he’d just been punched in the chest and looked down to see the hilt of a dagger sticking out of his chest. A pool of blood gathered around the wound as Richie looked around for witnesses. “Damn.” Warren muttered, wrapping his hand limply around the hilt of the dagger. With the last of his failing strength he pulled the blade out and it dropped from loose fingers. Moments later he woke up and looked around in shock. His hand instinctively went up to his chest where he found a hole in his shirt, though no wound in his chest. He was propped up on a chair in the office with Richie watching him intently while standing in front of the door. “You ok?” He asked with concern. “No thanks to you!” Warren shouted, still trying to understand how he was unhurt. “Relax.” Richie said calmly, raising his hands. “You’re immortal.” “What in the hell makes me immortal?” Warren demanded. Richie’s hands dropped, another confused look shadowed his features. “I don’t know really, I never asked that.” He smiled again in spite of the tension in the room. Richie painstakingly explained, well into the night, what it meant to be immortal, both the positives and negatives. They were safe on holy land and fair game for other immortals everywhere else. He explained what others meant by ‘There can be only one.’ Richie even explained the prize for the last immortal. Many immortals just lived out their lives, much like mortals, with no ambitions for absolute power. Others lived for the fight, centuries of battle after battle, working their way to the ultimate prize. Both he and Warren knew what his choice would be, so the decision for Richie to become his teacher was academic at best. Warren explained how he’d come to die violently in the explosion. Richie explained his own death at the hands of a pathetic drug addict gunman. His eyes misted over as he spoke about Tessa. Warren could tell that she’d been a mother to him. They spoke into the night about all of the friends and loved ones they’d lost in their short lives. * Here he was though, months later and much more prepared for the life ahead of him. After dressing, Warren sat down on his couch and began surfing the four channels he had reception on. A knock came at the door and Warren sighed as he got up to answer it, feeling the presence of another immortal. “Richie, I’m done for tonight man.” He said as he approached the door. The door was kicked clean off his hinges and flew down the hallway, forcing Warren to roll sideways into his kitchen. His blade was back in his bedroom, along with his discarded training clothes. Warren pulled open a cupboard door and grabbed a cast iron skillet. He tested the weight of it as he waited for the immortal to come into his apartment. “I am Colin Franks.” He announced in a gravely voice from the doorway. “Warren Delmage. I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage. My blade is in the other room.” Warren admitted darkly. “You shouldn’t go anywhere without your blade boy.” Franks announced from the hallway as he skulked into Warrens home. “Too bad you learned that lesson too late.” He chuckled. Warren stood quietly and placed his back against the wall leading to the hallway. As Colin Franks walked past, Warren swung with all his strength and slammed the pan into Franks face. While the angry swearing immortal reeled backwards, Warren ran out of the kitchen and bolted for his bedroom. He could hear the large man reset his nose with a scream. His loud stomps echoed down the hallway as he made his way towards Warren’s bedroom. The young immortal crouched, readying his falchion for a quick strike while Franks burst into his bedroom. The immortal was large, with a shaved and scared scalp. He wore a white muscle shirt, revealing equally scarred arms, covered heavily in tattoos. Franks looked like a stereotypical big badass biker and brawler. Colin Franks roared in anger, bringing a huge double bladed axe to bear as Warren rolled over his bed and readied himself again in front of his window. He was easily the largest man Warren had ever seen and wielded his large axe with ease. Shouting in rage again, he rushed forward. Warren Delmage ducked under another slash of the axe and rolled forward, past Franks. He then kicked the larger man in the back. He’d already been stumbling towards the window, however with Warren’s kick the larger man was off balance and toppled through the screen and down into the back alley behind the diner Warren lived above. Delmage ran through his apartment and out his back door. A staircase led down to the alley and already Colin was back on his feet, wiping the last of the blood off his face. Warren leapt off the staircase, landing athletically in the widest part of the alley where delivery trucks backed in with produce and supplies for the diner. Franks bellowed as he walked purposefully forward, raising his impressive axe over his shoulder. Warren ducked under a wild swing and lashed out with his blade, taking Franks in the ribs. The large man yelled out in pain as he brought his axe backwards, trying to gut Warren on the spot. Delmage jumped back and then back in, driving his sword into the sternum of the larger man. Colin Franks looked down at the blade imbedded in his chest and smiled sadistically. He grabbed a hold of Warren’s shirt and pulled him forward and off balance. He drove his forehead into Warren’s nose. Delmage reeled backwards, his vision completely obscured by tears. His nose hadn’t broken, though the pain of the sudden impact impaired his vision. Franks shouted before charging again. How the large man could still fight with a chest wound was beyond Warren’s understanding and the young man raised his sword defensively, still unable to see clearly. He heard, more than saw, Franks axe whistle through the air aimed at his neck. Warren ducked under the swing again and sliced into Colin’s stomach as he moved past him. Delmage heard the huge man drop to his knees, his axe blade clanged loudly on the pavement. Warren took a deep steadying breath as he blinked away the tears. He swung with all of his strength, separating Colin Franks head from his shoulders. A faint humming sound filled Warren’s ears as an intense feeling of euphoria and pain washed over him. He felt numerous small bolts of lightning hit him all over his body as Franks quickening flowed into his body. Memories that were not his own invaded his mind, account numbers, friends, family, happy and sad times…all of which overwhelmed Warren’s mind. Delmage dropped to his knees, arms raised as the power, strength and knowledge of the large would be assassin flowed into his minds eye. The pain disappeared completely, replaced by intense euphoria. His body shook with pleasure as power infused itself to his very soul. Then the euphoria also faded away, leaving only a throbbing headache and pain all over his body. “Hurts, doesn’t it?” Richie asked. Warren looked up to find his teacher sitting on a collection of pallets stacked neatly beside the back door to the diner. Errant memories that were not his own collided around in his mind and Warren closed his eyes again, trying to compose himself as he nodded dumbly. “First one always does. Don’t worry; it gets less painful each time.” Richie explained. Delmage fought to catch his breath as the aches and pains began to subside. He tried to meditate a little, as Richie had taught him, to calm the thoughts buzzing around in his head like a swarm of gnats. Finally, he began to feel some semblance of normality and rose shakily to his feet. “Your life here is over.” Richie announced calmly. “I know.” Warren croaked. He had come to love this little mountain town, but Richie was right. These people might eventually be used against him by some aggressive immortal. Some already would be wondering about the light show a few minutes ago. Even so, if he could happen to keep his secret from the mortals around him, over time it would become obvious that he wasn’t getting any older. A few hours later, after thanking his boss and landlady for their generosity, he sat on his own motorcycle. Two saddle bags loaded with his few possessions strapped over the tail of bike. Warren took a deep breath, taking in the only home he could remember since his wife had died. Perhaps some day he would come back here for a time to remind himself of simpler times. “Ready?” Richie called with his characteristic grin as he mounted his bike. Delmage nodded as he started his bike and the pair of them rode off into a gathering storm.