-title- Sherlock Ambroteros
Sherlock Holmes; Sherlock
(the modern Holmes AU); Highlander
; the Matter of Britain-other fandoms-
Anything that will logically or less logically fill up the years. It's a surprise.-genre-
nonlinear; a Sherlockian take on potentially nauseous subjects; historical ethnocentrism; particularly long-lived characters often referred to by whatever name they happen to be using at the time; it's been so long since I've seen Highlander
that I've entirely forgotten what was canon, what personal spackle, and what other fans' epiphany-inducing spackle; it would probably be an idea to read the previous parts here
to have the faintest idea of what's going on.-summary-
Rather a long time ago, pennies_4_eyes
prompted "Highlander crossover: Sherlock is an immortal. One of the few really, REALLY old ones. (Maybe even someone famous from long ago in history)" on the Sherlock
This kickstarted an idea I'd had floating around, and I started writing the epic saga of immortal!Sherlock, who isn't quite old enough to be the specific famous somebody Pennies' suggested but with luck makes up for it by the number of famed persons he's been.Sherlock Ambroteros, part fifteen of lots
The first time he died, back when he was Peretur, it was an accident.
Well, for certain values of the word "accident."
He hadn't meant
to be abducted by reivers and carried across the North Sea: he'd been trying to find a way to ride home that didn't involve going through a freshly-plowed old battlefield and being greeted as a savior by people who seemed to think he'd done something amazing by letting his phallus be stiffened enough to widen a preexisting gap in a thin membrane (after she'd accidentally kneed him in the eye, but they hadn't asked about that and he didn't see any reason to inform them) and then spilling his seed beyond said membrane rather than all over the girl's thighs, despite the obvious fact that hundreds if not thousands of young men managed as much every day; wondering whether said insemination was really all there were to it, as from everything everyone ever said about such coitus and their actions they certainly seemed to find it far more profound than a pleasant but largely uninteresting enterprise; and wondering how to go about testing whether one of the girl's fellow-cultists had been right in claiming that he, Peretur (Guher), had been born to one of Mami's husband's older half-sisters (the man was extraordinarily well supplied with them, at least one of which had disappeared a year or two before Guher was born), should he decide that he wanted to do so -- hardly relevant to his current existence, after all -- when an oar had hit him over the head.
He hadn't meant
to irritate the reivers so much that they sold him on as a thrall to the local sodality of Immortals (all three of them), none of whom seemed to know much of anything about their condition -- and how they'd managed to last as long as they had without running into any
teacher or learning decapitation to be rather permanently fatal and battling on Holy Ground to be highly contraindicated Sherlock still isn't sure, although he suspects their never having been farther out of the Cimbric Chersonese than Lower Saxony had had more than a little to do with it. He hadn't meant
to irritate the Immortals with his perfectly sincere attempts to teach them elementary postmortem rules and customs, at least not enough for them to decide that he would make wonderful
bait for the water monster they had thus far utterly failed to kill. (And speaking of which, who had ever heard of water monsters in the lands of the Northmen anyway? Even the great flood six hundred years back had only waterlogged enough of the fields that the locals had cast lots for who got to stay and eat the remainder of the harvest and who ought to beat feet as soon as possible for higher and dryer land, numbers swelling with pioneers and extra sons as they went.)
He had, granted, meant for his temporary owners to fill the water monster's cave with strong-smelling smoke, to himself cut his bonds and use them to strangle the water monster (which from the tracks he had realized to be some sort of troglodyte of manlike stock) should he be unable to retrieve one or another of the weapons the sodality of idiots had lost in one set or another of dying throes. He hadn't
meant for them to be quite so enthusiastic about the smoke, and he'd utterly failed to anticipate how tough the troglodyte's hide would be (although he had managed, from the sound alone, to calculate the creature's leap in time to get the boar-spear up and braced so that momentum and its own weight drove the blade farther into its body than he could have managed by himself).
But he really
hadn't meant to be under the water monster when it gave up the ghost or within reach of its dying throes at all -- since when, he would like to know, have anthropoid water monsters been equipped with sharp whip-quick tails? -- and while he doesn't know whether the tail-blow or one of the other wounds were fatal, or whether his death was due to his crushing by the monster's corpse or even just too much smoke for him to survive his other injuries, in all of those cases it was clearly unintentional, and he hadn't even realized until he woke up with a corpse pinning him down and a rather peculiar sensation of being watched from the cavemouth that, when he managed to throw the corpse off of himself in a burst of adrenalin, resolved itself into three separate but close vectors.
(Other so-called Immortals have described it as a "buzzing sensation," but nothing about it buzzes
to him. It's more a combination of the feeling of being watched and of the sort of heightened awareness he feels when he has "caught the scent," to borrow a metaphor, of whatever he's following the traces of THIS time -- in a way that's slightly different from the way it feels to actually be watched while riding the elation of being on the right track.)
At the time, after the first unexpected and unpleasant rush of what he hadn't yet known to call adrenalin had had him flinging the corpse off and rolling clear in what he would not even to himself call a panic, he was reasonably sure of what had happened even before the first of the idiots poked his head into the mouth of the cave and said "There's something..."
Peretur managed to get himself on his feet, hobble to the entrance, and deflect the idiot's nervous spear-thrust with one arm.
"He's survived," the second idiot said blankly as Peretur reached the cave's mouth, set his back against the stone, and relaxed with all three idiots in vision, "and he feels like us."
"I've killed your water monster," Peretur said acidly. "You needn't all thank me at once."
"Is that its blood?" the third idiot asked, wide-eyed, leaping to catch him as his knees suddenly buckled.
Peretur nodded, curling his lip (other inhabitants of this particular peninsula, unlike these clowns, at least understood the concept of a bathhouse).
"That explains it," his support induced from two non-data and another datum the wrong way round. "The Creature bled on all of us! Its blood gave us this immortality, just like Sigwarthaz Fafnisbane!"
"It was a largely man-shaped creature, not a lindworm or any other sort of dragon -- " (and thank the mercy of heaven for that, he's always hated all kinds of worms, even when Guher was a boy he hated seeing naked earthworms wriggle -- even when his mother taught him to fish he'd finally trapped flies and tied them onto his hook somehow rather than pick up a worm and thread it on a hook -- and snakes are worse, all scaled and coiled and hissing, and vipers worst of all --)
"But it can't be complete immortality," Idiot One interrupted, "because Sigwarthaz died when his wife's kinsman stabbed him in the back."
"I thought he died in a wrestling match with Gotthormaz the Wer-Wolf where they both slew each other," the second idiot contradicted.
"Maybe Gotthormaz was the wife's kinsman? I think she had something to do with it..." Idiot Three had offered.
"Oh, Body of CHRIST," Peretur swore, and treated them to a lecture on the differences between Sigwarth (he barely remembered to add the -az for their benefit, not trusting them to recognize the original Isquaish** version of the name) Wormslayer, grandson of Wols the Young and like him king in Salland, and his own grandson Sigfrith(az) Wormslayer; the dragons (skin-turned Dwarrows) slain by each, and why, and how the dwarf Gotthormaz was kin to both of the latter; and the separate manners of their deaths, as told to him by Guher Govan Flowinghair, whom he described for the idiots' benefit as "my kinsman, who knows the tales of the Goths and Franks because his mother is Caesar's sister on the father's side as well as the mother's, and so he was fostered with their father his grandfather's Gewis kinsmen, and back when other Franks and Frisians came to Britain to swell the numbers of the Gewisse, they had scribes write down the tales of their heroes in good Latin for my kinsman and his ancestors to read.
(Sherlock isn't quite sure why he hadn't scraped away the memory of long evenings of Guher Flowinghair telling him and Gildas and his own brother the lengthy and insanely complicated tale of his Wulfing Wolsung-and-otherwise Frankish kinsmen-by-another-complicated-method -- in deference to his buyers' intellectual limitations, he himself hadn't even troubled them with the Gothic and Herusk antecedents, the Roman connections, assorted intervening generations, the accursed ring, Attila the Hun, or the part where the Wolsung names likely sounded a bit different in Frankish than in Gothifrish -- although he knows perfectly well why he hasn't deleted it since: without the content, however inane, he won't be able to properly recall his godfather's intonations or indeed his voice as anything other than a pleasant background sound that might belong to anybody.)"Neither of them were immortal," he finished, "or one of them would be ruling the Franks or at least some of their Salian tribes this very day, wouldn't they."
The three idiots stood there blinking (fortunately, by this time Peretur had been feeling enough himself again to stalk over to the stream and start washing himself off) until one had finally said "So does that mean we'll revive if our heads are hewn off?"
"Wrong." He had not yet come to despair of the educability of the better part of mankind, then, and after a moment condescended to explain "Decapitation will kill almost anything out there -- well, except for certain denizens of the British Isles -- but certainly including you idiots. If Sigwarthaz had been Immortal as -- we are immortal, he'd still have died of that blow, but likely his back would have healed of its breaking in the Wer-Wolf's dying struggles, and so his wife wouldn't have needed to be sure and get him to die a hero, or whatever ridiculous thing it is that you believe."
The idiot backhanded him for that (unsurprising, but disappointing nevertheless); another said "Wait, you're from the British Isles, aren't you? Didn't the crew of
Wave-Striker say they'd brought you back from the shores of the Walish?"
"Of course he is," jumps-to-conclusions put in. "He just said his kinsman's mother was Kisar's sister on the father's side as well as the mother's, so his own mother must be Kisar's sister on the mother's side alone -- "
Peretur might have deduced that he'd phrased his statement as he had because he'd still had the Bran-cultist's statement in the back of his mind, but he was too busy boggling about the idiot's ability to induce a mountain from no real data whatsoever.
" -- and Kisar, as all men know, is the king of the Walish, who live in the British Isles and south of them in the lands Hlodovekaz*** claims."
"I'll bet no one else has a king's sister-son for a thrall," Idiot One said proudly. "Even if he is a weedy, mouthy sort of specimen."
"No, Ingeldaz-King -- the one his nephews killed to win back the Danes' kingship -- had a couple of Saxon king's sister's sons for thralls after that raid Starkathaz the Old shamed him into," Idiot Three argued. "But he was just a Saxon king, and Kisar is the King of the Walish."
By an effort of will, Peretur managed not to mention his mother the Augustus, or the Augustus in the East, or whatever claim the Franks and the Goths and the other Goths and whatever-that-other-one-was might have to the Empire between the East and Northwest, as it seemed unlikely to add anything useful to the discussion.
"Starkathaz the Old isn't. Old, I mean," Idiot One let himself be sidetracked. "Is he like we are?"
"I don't know. He certainly seems to be hale and strong... "
"Why don't you meet him," Peretur snorted, "and find out?"
With any luck, they'd irritate this Starkathaz even more than they irritated him, and he could be rid of them without every steading in the Chersonese after him for a killer thrall.
"So!" Idiot Two finally got in, staring Peretur full in the face. "Will you die if your head's cut off?"
"If one of you cuts my head off," Peretur said slowly and very, very carefully, "I will eat him alive."
After all, none of them had drunk another Immortal's Quickening-force, and Guher's mother had fed her own life-force into him to keep him alive long enough to grow up when he was young, so in the end it had to depend on whose stubborn will to live was stronger -- and did it come down to sheer stoneheaded stubbornness, Peretur (Anniannioc [Guher]) would give anyone half the course and a handicap and still come out ahead.
(Sherlock still could, even if his mother does say now that Caledonia's thrown up someone nearly as bad.)
*who ever heard[...]?: to be fair, this was several years before King Ingeldaz's half-Dane brother's son built possibly the most famous noise pollution venue in Western literature.
**Isquaish: around the time the Northmen split off from the West Germans, the latter separated into three groups that spoke markedly different dialects. That of the Irminans eventually did a couple of loop-de-loops, stood on its head, and became Old High German; that of the Ingwaians turned into Saxon and English and Fries (Frysk); and between them the remaining Isquaians (mistranscribed as Istwaians -- well, "Istvaeones") eventually formed the coalition of the Franks.
***Hlodovekaz: he probably called himself Chlodovech, history usually has him down as Clovis, and he was the first Frankish king to make himself king of all the other Franks. In our world, he also conquered all of the isolated and leftover province of Gallia Belgica.)