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Element of Fire

This book is currently out of print and the synopsis is offered for enjoyment only. No infringement of copyright is intended.


The Element of Fire

By Jason Henderson
(copy 1995)

Front Cover:
An original, all-new novel based on the international hit TV series.

Back cover:
He is immortal. A Scottish warrior born four hundred years ago. He is not alone. For centuries he has fought others like himself. He can die only if a foe takes his head, capturing his life-force in an event known as the Quickening. But his battles are eternal... for in the end, there can be only one. He is Duncan MacLeod, The Highlander.

Centuries ago, the immortal pirate Khordas vowed to destroy MacLeod. Evil and insane, Khordas delights in burning his victims inside their homes and ships, while he loots the pyres from which he alone can emerge.

Nantucket, 1897: Now on an anniversary of blood, this undying monster springs an infernal trap around the Highlander. But the pirate doesn't want merely to kill MacLeod. Unless stopped, Khordas will sear to cinders everything--and everyone--the Highlander holds dear...

Excerpt from inside front cover:
"Duncan!" cried Connor, "The crow's nest!"
Duncan's eyes flew up the main mast to the crow's nest, and as lightning linked it's way across the sky he saw two women there, and by the strong presence, he knew they were both immortals. "Amber!" shouted Duncan, but the wind would not carry his voice. He saw the glint of steel. Who the other woman was, Duncan had no idea. But they were fighting. Lightning filled the sky and Duncan saw the man of red hair, just like that of Khordas, the Salamander.

Duncan shouted out to Amber again and began to run for the main mast, but now he saw Connor wrench one hand free from the wheel of the Rosemary and thrash at him furiously. "No!"

"But..." Crashing waves. The two women were pitched in battle in a space no wider than a tabletop. "She's not ready!"

"No!" Connor snarled again, over the elements. "You may not interfere! It is forbidden!"

Lightning crackled once again, and the two female figures were silhouettes against the gray clouds. Duncan heard the Salamander cry, "The God will be avenged, Highlander! I own the elements and will not be denied my due!"

Book Dedicated to:
Douglas Vaughn Henderson

A time before recorded history in a land that would one day be called... Scotland.

Immortal Khordas is worshipped by the people as the living incarnation of Khordas... the Salamander. Yearly, at the time of sacrifice... he ceremoniously arises from the mud pit where he lies and asks to walk among them. For three generations he has done this... and no other was ever needed to perform the ancient rites of Fire and Water. Every year he slays one man, and takes one female below the mud to dwell with him. They always die.

One year, an albino girlchild is brought and he feels something odd about her. He takes her into the mud... where she dies. The next morning, like him, she is reborn and he knows that just as he is the real Khordas... she is the real Nerissa... his immortal companion.

For generations they are worshipped until the people are no more. Khordas and Nerissa are saddened... and very, very angry.

I recall reading that at the time this book was submitted to be published in early 1995, there was a discussion about the age of Khordas. The show had just introduced Methos (in winter/spring 1995)... the oldest living immortal... and they frowned on any writer introducing an older character. It had also been established in the first season that until he killed Grayson... Duncan had not killed so old an immortal. Further, he believed that the nearly two thousand year old Darius was the eldest of them all. Later, during Season Two, he'd met the elder Marcus Constantine and Nefertiri.

Finally the age of Khordas was left intact, as he does not survive into the present. The book, however, was not considered part of the canon of the show because of Khordas' age. It is mentioned on The New Watchers Chronicles cd-rom... but its characters are not profiled in the bios, nor are the events included in Duncan's or Connor's time-lines on the disk.

Chapter One
February 1625
After having found the newly immortal Duncan MacLeod lodged in rocks at the ocean's edge... evidently trying to die, Connor MacLeod takes his kinsman in and begins to teach him about the game.

Duncan sees Connor as slightly mad and slightly fey... a storehouse of energy carefully contained until it burst forth in his quixotic staccato laugh.

Duncan has nightmares about his banishment and his father's denial. He wants to know who he is. Connor tries to explain that Duncan's banishment was the way it was and that he should get over it. Then he tells him about his own banishment... being tied to a board and run out of town by an angry mob.

"We must hide our gift. We can't stay with them," Connor tells him. "It hurts too much when they die."

The following day, Connor has business in Aberdeen and while busy tells Duncan to get them a room.

Duncan however meets a charming waif with white hair. Her name is Nerissa. When Connor meets her, he pulls Duncan aside. "Aye... she's one of us. That feeling you get like curdled milk in your stomach should tell you that."

Duncan smiles. "I didn't think there'd be females."

Connor smirks. "You would. Technically speaking, as we can't have children, they are unnecessary... but a welcome diversion. Just don't lose your head. They can be every bit as dangerous."

The next day is St. Valentine's Day. After training, and mass, the two join a friend of Connor's... Captain Carmichael for a feast. Carmichael tells Duncan of how he met Connor MacLeod fifteen years before... looking much the same as he does now, and how Connor apparently drowned in saving the then captain of the ship... but came back to like.

Duncan is confused. "I thought you said we should hide?"

Connor shrugs. "There are always exceptions."

The next day, February 15 they wave farewell to the departing Carmichael and his ship, then see it suddenly burst into flames before it leaves the harbor. All hands are lost.

Nerissa arrives nearby in a coach and signals out to the bay. A man... dressed in black... wet but with smouldering clothes arrives in a small rowboat and begins to transport bags to the coach.

Connor angrily draws his sword to challenge the immortal who gives his name as Khordas. But as he is unarmed, he dismisses the challenge.

Connor would kill him anyway while Duncan stands aghast.

Nerissa, however, is armed. She draws a pistol and kills Connor who dies watching the coach drive off.


The chapter indicates that before reaching Aberdeen, the MacLeods had been together training for several months.

Later series episodes clarified that Duncan and Connor did not meet until several years after his death and banishment in 1622. This allowed for an immortal but unaware of the game Duncan to meet and kill (but not behead) Kanwulf [Homeland] and later to meet and receive the quickening of the suicidal hermit... Brother Timothy [Archangel]. An unrealized scene from that episode was to have Duncan and Connor meet immediately after Timothy's beheading. Connor would indicate he was drawn to the area... and saw the quickening... That he was checking it out. Instead, Duncan tells Richie that it was shortly after that event, that he met Connor. The film, Endgame shows them meeting in the bog after Duncan was killed (again) in the battle of Glen Fruin.

St. Valentine's Day is mentioned in the chapter. The following day (15 Feb) is Nerissa's "birthday"... likely the day that she died and was reborn... although how Khordas and Nerissa even knew how to count the days of the year so exactly from their time of pre-history remains a mystery. Khordas comments that he likes to "light a fire" for Nerissa's birthday. In other words, he sets fire to a house or ship, then robs the dying. He is not interested in the game. He snorts in derision at Connor's challenge... and tells Nerissa to deal with him... as if he were only an insect or minor annoyance. They leave... rather than collect Connor's head.

Connor is portrayed much as he was in the film with a sense of humor and an other-worldly presence that makes Duncan wonder if he were always this way. He further counts the passing of time and the death of mortals as something almost too painful to bear.

is also much as he was in the series... a lusty man out to enjoy the fruits of immortality and not completely willing to be fearful of other immortals. He seeks friendship and companionship with others of his kind. At this point... the game is not entirely real to him.

Chapter Two
Scotland, February 1632
After seven years of intense training... Duncan finally manages to beat Connor in a fight. They were on Beinn Bahn near the Isle of Skye when after tracking Connor, the two fought, and Duncan won. The younger man wonders what would happen if it came down to the two of them at the final battle.

"There can be only one," Connor laughs in his staccato laugh. Duncan backs away, hoping it never comes to that.

They camp and make plans to go to the village of Applecross the following day for supplies. After that, Connor plans to go home to his forge, but Duncan is free to travel.

"There is more to learn than I can teach you," Connor tells him. It is time Duncan moved on. He cannot always stay with Connor.

On the horizon they see a great conflagration. "It's Applecross," Connor says.

When they reach the destroyed town the next day, they discover that Connor was right. At the ruins of the church, they find a priest sitting despondently in the rubble.

He tells them that the fire began in the church... and that it was unlike anything he'd ever seen.

Connor asks if the church had any great treasure. The priest indicates that they'd only recently been given a jeweled casket by the bishop. Connor asks to see where it had been placed within the church.

The priest shows them... and they find... not the casket... but a wooden box. A strange poem is inscribed on the box, which mentions "the element of fire". When they open the box... they find a salamander staring up at them.

"Khordas!" the Highlanders say. Their adversary is back.


Okay... a few problems with this chapter. One... the series indicates that Duncan had several adventures in Europe between 1625 and 1637... including his first meeting with Hugh Fitzcairn in Italy in 1637, his meeting with Martin Hyde in Scotland in 1630 when Hyde was searching for Connor, and Duncan's 1634 finding of Ursa in France. While this scenario as presented in the book can still fit in between the other events... it makes it seem as if Duncan had yet to be on his own at all since he'd met Connor. The movie Endgame also places the two in Italy in 1631, at which time Connor teaches Duncan an unstoppable move as his final gift to him.

Likewise, I have a problem with Khordas leaving behind a wooden box in a burning building which contains a living salamander?!? True... the box was protected... and it was covered with soot... but a living salamander?

Nice imagery... but a little hokey for my tastes.

On Connor beating Duncan, here is an excerpt from the end of the fight:

... Connor staggered back and Duncan saw the next move before it even happened. Connor's foot hit an exposed root and the Immortal staggered again, and Duncan tore at him, aiming for his sword hand. Down and up again, a lightning arc, and Connor's sword left his hand and flipped through the trees... Duncan brought the claymore down and back to Connor's throat.

~~page 27, The Element of Fire by Jason Henderson, copy 1995.

In other words... it was luck. Connor tripped, Duncan attacked taking advantage of his teacher's balance, and won.

Beating one's teacher evidently signaled that it was time for the student to move on. In the case of the evil immortals, their bios often say they killed their first teacher.

Chapter Three
Scotland, May 1632
Three months later, the MacLeods are still seeking information regarding Khordas. They follow a string of small fires up the coastline. Despite Duncan's now being able to be on his own... he chooses to remain with Connor during this search.

Finally, Connor realizes that they are looking in the wrong place... that they need to find a spot in Scotland that is home to fire and water... a place where only salamanders might live... the creature from whom Khordas takes his nickname. They need the most inhospitable spot in Scotland... a place men fear ... Rannoch Moor

Arriving at the moor... they struggle forward on foot toward an old broch or mud mound... some forty feet in diameter. They feel the two immortals... Khordas and Nerissa.

They sink chest deep in a moat of mud as they approach the broch... Duncan loses his sword when he stumbles. Looking up... he sees Nerissa high in a tree. She draws back a bow and lets loose with a flaming arrow which pierces his side. Meanwhile Connor has reached the inner edge of the moat and pulls himself out. Then he extends a hand toward Duncan.

Duncan is floundering. The phosphorescent fire of the arrow continues to burn within his side. Then he sees a mud-covered Khordas emerge from the mud.

The Salamander kicks Duncan. Then he holds his sword at Duncan's throat and twists and pushes the burning arrow deeper and deeper. The two exchange words and Duncan learns that Khordas thinks of himself as a god... not a mere immortal. Duncan focuses on Connor's teaching... to ignore the pain... and move through it.

Nerissa looses another arrow that Connor manages to evade... but it sets fire to the broch. Connor draws a small knife, which he throws back across the moat at Nerissa. He hits his target. Her shriek causes Khordas to look away.

Duncan manages to find his claymore with his foot, and shifts it up to his hand when Khordas is distracted by Nerissa's fall from her perch to the earth. Duncan kicks off against his foe... managing to dislodge the burning arrow from his side. He retreats to the outer edge of the moat... and pulls himself out of the mud.

By this time, Nerissa has revived and drawn a rapier... she launches an attack on Duncan. He fights back... and takes her head.

Meanwhile Connor and Khordas are fighting inside the moat.

Nerissa's death and the quickening that follows... as well as Connor's swordsmanship... enrage Khordas... but he stumbles close to the fire consuming his broch of mud and moss. He is engulfed in fire. He shrieks... and then plunges into the moat... which likewise begins to burn.

After the fire subsumes... Duncan joins Connor at the broch. They enter the still-smouldering hut and discover small clay figures. From these they begin to understand that Khordas must have been a priest or sacrifice of some ancient religion... that he'd revived and believed he was a god... that Nerissa had joined him at some point. They conjecture that the two of them continued... even after time passed them by. They did not change.

Connor warns Duncan that he must be willing to change with time... or suffer the same fate. Duncan begins to consider that the game is a lie... surely immortals exist for another purpose... not just killing one another. He surmises that the prize is nothing more than a phantom meant to entice them.

After he'd taken Nerissa's quickening, he'd felt that nothing else would ever again satisfy him. It was a complete moment... one in which he felt utterly connected to life. He understands that some immortals... upon experiencing this... would live only to have that moment again and again... it is a great intoxicant. Some immortals would kill all other immortals for that moment. In the end... if the prize is a lie... one immortal would be left with nothing.

Connor laughs. He believes in the game. To fail to recognize it and to obey its laws is to court death.

"Change with the times, Duncan," he warns the younger man again. "Or in the end... you'll be like Khordas."

They return to the moat to kill their foe... but no longer sense the evil immortal anywhere nearby. He has escaped them.

Deep in the mud... Khordas has reclaimed Nerissa's body... and holds it weeping. He escapes the mud through his underwater tunnel... and collapses to heal his burning body. He is filled with rage and pain. But time is on his side.


Before Duncan kills Nerissa, the book reiterates that she is the first female immortal he has ever met... and he doesn't wish to kill her... but he recalls Connor's warning to him that all immortals use whatever gift they possess to lure and destroy another immortal. He realizes he has to kill her.

The book does not say this is Duncan's first quickening, but it implies it. It describes in detail the wonderous feeling of being Duncan MacLeod... and Nerissa. It rhapsodizes about the need to make her a part of who he is.

It is explained that Khordas knows enough about fire to be able to make it whenever he wishes by using things like sawdust, brimstone, or phosphorous. In other words... there is no magic to what he does.

The entry into the smoldering broch seems designed to let the Highlanders figure out Khordas' past. While they are in there... the important discussion happens as they consider the game.

Connor... as in the movies... is focused on the game. He refuses to believe that things are other than as stated by his teacher who was 2500 years or so old. "Surely if it was a lie... he would have known. He'd have told me."

Duncan, on the other hand, still attempting to find his place in the world, still smarting from his father's rejection, (Who am I? Where do I come from?) wants to believe that there has to be a purpose to their existence. He is willing to believe that the killing and the game is a lie.

Henderson catches the attitudes of the two Highlanders in this exchange... and the innate difference between them. One is focused on the game... for him immortality is a curse that hurts. For the other... it is something to be explored and tasted. There has to be more than just what he's been told.

The book was published in October 1995... at the beginning of the fourth season of the series. Henderson had likely been working on the manuscript for several months... followed by the turn around time of a few months that actually publishing a manuscript takes.

By late in Season Three, the focus of the series had clearly moved from the initial one of the Gathering to one where the writers, cast, and production staff were exploring what it meant to be immortal. This is the attitude Henderson gives Duncan, and allows for Duncan to spend the next 350 years... exploring immortality, changing with the times, and fighting when he must... but more importantly... making immortal friends.

On Connor vs Duncan: Early on Duncan would surely be no match for Connor. Obviously, Connor would have the advantage of experience -- from extra time learning new techniques and in actual combat with other Immortals. However, by the present-day timeframe in Endgame, I would have to say the two Highlanders were pretty much evenly matched. Duncan isn't too much younger than Connor, and that relatively small span of years would become less significant as the decades and centuries passed. Not to mention that no matter how hard and often a person trains and practices (in anything, combat or whatever), they will eventually reach their skill limit. You can tinker with a machine only so much before it can't work any more efficiently, after all.

Chapter Four
December 1853, The Rosemary
Duncan MacLeod is on his way to America (for the second time) when he next encounters his teacher. When he'd left him, he'd traveled far and wide and made many immortal friends. There are more in the world than Connor ever told him.

While he remains physically young, the sorrows of the ages weigh on him. He has loved and lost often. Now he books passage aboard Connor's gunrunner for himself and his student... Amber Lynn, who has been immortal for only a few months. She was killed as a witch a few months earlier. She was an herbalist and mid-wife. He fears that he's not old enough or wise enough to teach her, and he and Connor speak of Amanda, currently in America, as someone Amber might go to.

Connor also jokes about Duncan wishing for time away from the game. He says it will find him no matter where he goes, and he owes it to the future to fight the good fight. "The game will find you," he says and alludes to Darius. He also mentions Grace Chandel as someone else who stands for good and he fears that the Kurgan... his old adversary is still out there and what will happen if the Kurgan wins.

Duncan is amazed at how Connor knows things... like exactly where Amanda happens to be.

Duncan notes that just as he is "older" more world weary... so his elder kinsman. But the differences between them are less now than they were. In time, the difference of a hundred years will be nothing.

For three months, they travel with Connor and Duncan wonders if Connor is hiding. He says he isn't... that one day this ship will sink, and that Connor MacLeod will no longer exist. It is time to change his name again.

A storm blows up while just after the ship leaves the China coast, and Connor senses two immortals in a small boat, hidden from them, but closing in. Duncan goes to find Amber and be certain she is safe. She isn't... she's not in her bunk.

Returning to the deck to ask Connor if he's seen her... he sees what can only be Khordas with his flaming mane of red hair... high in the rigging with a metal rod. He calls to the lightning to burn the ship.

In the crow's nest... Amber is fighting for her life against a female immortal with long red hair. Amber loses... her head with its accusing eyes falls at Duncan's feet and her quickening helps Khordas start a fire that reaches the gunpowder. The ship explodes.

Duncan and Connor are thrown in different directions... and do not meet again for many years.


The author answers the above question about abilities and time by indicating that by the time Duncan is 261 the differences between he and Connor are slight in their ability with the sword.

Henderson mentions that Duncan has learned to read, learned Shakespeare at a monastery, traveled the Far East, and received his dragon-head katana from a mortal teacher who died for him, when he could die for no one.

Further, Henderson hints that Connor may have had a Watcher contact. He does this without saying so... merely has Duncan wonder at the source of Connor's knowledge.

It is interesting that he mentions that even at his current age, Duncan still feels unsure about taking Amber on as a student. He does not explain how Connor knows Amanda.

It is made clear, however, that Khordas planned his attack on them... the Highlanders... that it was not a random fire. He laughs at the game... and reminds them that he is a god.

Timeline wise... the episode Duende shows Duncan in Spain as late as 1853 while the episode Courage shows him in San Francisco. This chapter of the book is set between these two events.

As for Connor... well... things are little more complicated.

There are two references in the films to his time on the Rosemary. In one, we see a logbook entry dated September 1853 that the ship was attacked by pirates and that Capt. MacLeod no longer exists. The narration in another film indicates that in December 1858, he is the captain of the Rosemary.

Chapter Five
1897 Nantucket Sound
Duncan MacLeod is in love.

In the forty plus years since he last had a run-in with Khordas... he's only rarely seen Connor. His kinsman has become almost ghostlike over the years. Popping up and vanishing... yet always seeming to know where he is. He was there to help Duncan over the initial pain of Little Deer's death... and to stand at his side at her funeral pyre. He understood Duncan's ten-year withdrawal from the world... but did not condone it.

Duncan had felt like nothing would ever fill him again with life... but now he has met... Gabriella Savedra... and the world is filled with promise.

They are aboard the Andrew, captained by Gabriella's father, when he senses an immortal. 'Not now!' he thinks as he bends over in pain and nausea...

As he draws along the Andrew in a rowboat, the black-garbed Khordas likewise senses an immortal and thinks this might be fun. He gathers his equipment and prepares.

Duncan makes his excuses to Gabriella and begins to search the ship, glad to have his katana with him.

Khordas sets his final charge to the Andrew's hull. Above... Duncan eventually notes the empty rowboat.. but his mind does not think quite fast enough to realize why it seems familiar.

An explosion garners his attention. Behind him, the elusive Khordas thinks that this immortal aboard seems familiar.

While panic grips the ship, Khordas confronts the guard of the ship's safe... a bit too drunk to realize the bad spot he's in. Khordas shears off his head and cracks the safe while another charge... on the other side of the ship... goes off.

Running into Gabriella, Duncan tells her to get to safety on a lifeboat... he will join her shortly... then he begins a search for the unknown immortal. Only when he and the captain find the sailor's body next to the safe, and Duncan notes the ingenious fuse set to go off when Captain Savedra opens the safe to check its contents... does he realize that it is Khordas... it has to be.

He finally finds him in the engine room and confronts him. Khordas is delighted that it is the Highlander aboard... the perfect end to a perfect day. He continues to mock Duncan's allegiance to a game that is of no interest to the Salamander.

Duncan closes in for the attack. Khordas laughingly withdraws... warning him with a laugh that the hold isn't safe. He vanishes up the gangway... Duncan pursues and emerges in an inferno. He notes the dead captain and makes his way through the fire... leaping off the exploding and sinking inferno into the dark water only when he realizes that Khordas has also left the ship... and is rowing away.

An unconscious Duncan is picked up by one of the lifeboats and awakens with his head in Gabriella's lap. He considers that he and Connor should have killed the man when they had the chance.


A well-executed chapter. Whereas in 1853 Khordas sought the Highlanders to repay them for killing Nerissa... this time his meeting with Duncan is by chance.

This chapter could easily have been a flashback sequence in the series. It helps show Duncan's continued evolvement into the immortal we know in the series, and fits neatly between other known flashbacks that had him on the east coast of America. In 1896 he runs afoul of Axel Whittaker in Boston... and in 1905 he is in New York City where he comes to the attention of... The Black Hand... when he counsels an Italian grocer to go to the police rather than to quietly pay protection money.

Khordas is further developed as a law into himself. He thinks of mortals only as things in his way. He robs for his pleasure... he kills without remorse... and he is elusive enough that he has managed to survive for millennia without concerning himself with the game. He does not let Duncan's challenging him stop him in the performance of his theft. He leaves... and escapes into the dark.

Chapter Six
Martha's Vineyard
Mrs. George Drake is planning to murder her husband. She dismisses the staff for the evening and sets his dinner on the table as she waits for him, knowing that tonight... she will be reunited with her true love... the god who has taught her so much about the element of fire.

Lauren is immortal, and the red-haired companion of the oldest immortal she has ever met. As her husband eats his solitary dinner... she arranges the corpse of the woman who will be taken for her after the fire. She's already thoroughly burned the face and hands.

Oblivious to her preparations, George goes to his study after dinner as he always does.

Shortly afterwards, Khordas breaks into the study in a glow of fire, feeling almost sorry for this pathetic mortal. George is badly burned and thinks only of telling Lauren to run. With a start... he realizes she is kicking him and laughing.

Khordas and Lauren skip gayly through the house setting fires and then retreat to the indoor pool for a swim. He asks if she has secured the items they will steal. She has. He tells he has seen MacLeod earlier.

"Connnor?" she asks.

"Duncan," he replies and as he makes love to her... the house explodes.

Later at her lighthouse, they retreat to the grotto below and they discuss the game. When Lauren questions what they are doing, he shakes his head. "They killed my Nerissa."

Lauren knows it is Nerissa he loves but she wants him to understand that Nerissa was only another immortal.

Khordas disagrees. "She was a god, my Companion. She was like me."

Lauren retreats to the lighthouse alone while Khordas prays to Nerissa and assures her that Duncan MacLeod will play.


This chapter introduces the red-haired female companion who killed Amber Lynn in 1853. She is as blood-thirsty as Khordas, and adores him. Only he can make her feel truly alive. She is addicted to the fire and ice of his love-making. No other man can make her feel so alive.

She cold-bloodedly kills a prostitute whose body will be mistaken for hers, and sets up her husband of three months for his death. She has robbed the house of whatever Khordas might like. No one will be the wiser. She even has the gaul to kick poor George when he's down.

She lives at a lighthouse, while Khordas lives below it in a hidden grotto which befits the salamander. They've constructed hidden stairs and tunnels from one to the other.

Khordas accepts her as his Companion, the replacement for Nerissa... but it is still Nerissa he loves and misses. Lauren is only someone he can use. Having seen Duncan, he now wishes to focus (after forty years) on making him pay the final price for her death.

Henderson's descriptions of the two as children playing in the fire of their own creation is well done. They have not grown into adults... but have remained like children... caught in the first youth of immortality. For Khordas... nothing has changed. He is the god... and he expects things to be as they were.

Chapter Seven
In Nantucket, Duncan runs a boarding house that he is fixing up room by room. The first floor is open for business, and his room on the upper floor is ready.

He found this life a welcome change from being a newspaperman in Washington state. He'd also inherited the housekeeper who kept everything running smoothly.

Today, Mrs. Brandeis is not a happy woman. Duncan has invited the orphaned Gabriela Savedra to stay with him. She hadn't wanted to remain in Martha's Vineyard after her father's death. She arrives at a full boarding house with a massive amount of luggage.

"And where should I put her?" Mrs. Brandeis wants to know. Duncan says on the second floor... but the rooms are in a sorry state.

Nevertheless, Gabriela believes it is just what she needs to get her mind off things.

Then they go for a walk... and she pumps Duncan for information... suggesting he might have had prior knowledge of the fire and explosion, and might be culpable.

He protests his innocence but tells her of Khordas... a pirate that he's had previous dealings with.

During their walk, Gabriela notes Duncan and a red-haired woman staring at one another in recognition.

She wants to know how he knows a dead woman for that is surely Mrs. Lauren Drake of Martha's Vineyard who perished in a fire there a day or so ago. Duncan explains that he has no knowledge of that... but that he recognizes her as Khordas' companion. And where one is... surely the other is.

Gabriela presses for information... so he tells her who he is... I was born three hundred years ago in the highlands of Scotland...


Gabriela is presented as bright, pushy, intelligent, charming, and a bit of a scamp. She is exactly the sort of woman that the Duncan in the series kept linking up with. He realizes that unless he tells her the truth... that she will leep pressing until she has the answers.

She wants to know how her father died... how he knew it... and once she knows... how Duncan managed to survive. His evasions and half-truths do not work. She is perceptive enough to know that he is hiding something... and she wants to know what it is.

Their seeing Lauren their first day out is too convenient. Especially so as Duncan has been some months in Nantucket, and while during that time Lauren was in Martha's Vineyard, Khordas has likely been in the area and yet did not know the Highlander was there.

Granted... Khordas is not a social creature and might have remained in hiding in his grotto or out on his piratical runs... but it is too convenient for my tastes.

Chapter 8
Khordas visits Lauren in her lighthouse and discusses his plan for this year's February offering to Nerissa. Lauren tries again to talk about the game, which Khordas refuses to play. He suggests that the game is lie created to keep the immortals at war with one another rather than at war with mortals. If it is true... then he will be the one. He is a god.

Their accomplice the tariff house clerk is visited by Duncan MacLeod, who persuades the Quaker to tell him which ship is the target. Barney finally succumbs to persuasion nad Duncan leaves him a bag of coins... each coin engraved with a name and date of death of one of Khordas' victims. Barney takes the money.

Duncan then purchases a small steamer so that he can access the target ship when the time comes, and sends a message to London.

Returning to his hotel, he is astounded in the change in the formerly filthy room now inhabited by Gabriela. He tells her that he knows the target and that Khordas is also an immortal.

She climbs onto Duncan who is lying on her bed and begins to remove his clothes.


Again, Khordas explains he is not a part of the game. He is the Salamander and Lauren is the Companion. The game is for fools.

Duncan shows his dangerous side in dealing with Barney, the tariff clerk, Barney. He's tired of Khordas getting away with murder and he's willing to do anything to stop it.

Gabriela surprises him. She is a very modern and very self-assured young woman. She is twenty-seven, and is willing to take whatever happiness she can have with MacLeod... before one of them dies. And Duncan agrees.

Chapter 9
Seven nautical miles south of Iceland
Connor MacLeod, using the alias of Capt. David Carruthers is a smuggler. When the British Preventives stop them and come aboard to check them out... he hides his cargo under whale blubber.

Jacob Devereaux of the Preventives is satisfied. He and Carruthers sit down for a cigarette... and he gives him a cryptic telegram and leaves.

To: Jacob Devereaux
For: Capt David Carruthers
From: Duncan MacLeod

Hard news on Nantucket
Too many salamanders

Connor realizes he has to move quickly


Capt. Brimstone of the USN comes aboard the ship Gratiano at sea and warns that a pirate attack is imminent. He warns the captain that the man is insane... and his name is Duncan MacLeod.


For most of this chapter... the writer does not clue the reader in that this is Connor in his new identity of David Carruthers. It makes perfect sense however, and the reader expects it.

Just as the second half of the chapter introduces Cap. Brimstone... and wants Duncan MacLeod held in a cell when he comes alongside. We have a pretty good idea who Brimstone might be.

Chapter 10
Aboard the Graziano, Lauren, Companion to the Salamander, waits until he has gone below with the ship's authorities and then comes aboard secretly.

She considers her life, death and rebirth as she slips among the passengers and pretends to be one of them.

In 1737, at the age of 30, Lauren, the adopted daughter of a middle-class English family, had become a Highwaywoman of some renown. In October of that year, she was caught, killed and buried. When she awoke in a shallow grave, she rose and fled, killing a rider who stopped to help her and stealing his clothes, horse, and pistol. She was aware of new senses.

She came to Rannock Moor where she felt him in the mud and dug him up. Her struggles to unearth Khordas were what finally awakened him. He still held the remnants of Nerissa in his arms. Khordas became her teacher, lover, and god. And she became his Companion.

Lauren still is questioning their activities, but does as instructed, and deposits a drug in the ship's food and water supply. Khordas doesn't just want to rob this ship and burn it... he wants worshippers. And... he wants the Highlander.

When Duncan arrives, he is arrested by the drugged crew and soon finds himself in a mud and hot water infused ballroom where he is witness to the activities of the passengers as they worship Khrodas.

He tries to make Lauren see the truth. When the passengers offer a child for Khordas' pleasure, Lauren removes the child, saying she is unworthy. Khordas becomes angry.

Duncan challenges Khrodas to fight... but is told that Khordas has sanctified the ballroom as holy ground... as holy as the mudpits from which he sprang.

Fearful of testing the truth of this, Duncan manages to escape, taking with him the child that would have been sacrificed. Khordas lets him go... he's now more interested in bringing Lauren once more under his rule.


The chapter gives us Lauren's background and how she became the Salamander's companion, and shows us the lengths that Khordas goes, to recapture the past that he so misses. He continues to believe the game is unimportant, while Lauren is beginning to feel the importance of it through her years living as an immortal.

Duncan is shown to be honorable once more, when he refuses to fight the crew for fear of hurting them, and allowing himself to be taken prisoner. When he is brought to the ballroom, he tries to make Lauren see his point of view. He succeeds enough with her, that she saves the sacrificial child, which he is able to take with him on his escape.

Chapter 11
Aboard his small boat, Duncan learns the burned little girl's name is Genevieve. She begs him to return for her mother. But he cannot. Duncan realizes that he had underestimated the Salamander... that Khordas truly is a different sort of immortal.

Aboard the Graziano, Khordas questions Lauren as to her actions. He believes her faith is wavering. He says she was a gift yet she knews that she found him... that she was not a gift... and yet... she is his. Khordas insists that he made men of mud and breathed on them... giving them life and the gift of fire. Lauren tries not to believe it. Khordas insists that she must drink once more of the Root of Faith. Lauren complies.

At the tariff house, Barney is visited by Lauren who questions him about having told MacLeod about the Graziano. Barney admits that it is so. Lauren asks him to watch a packet for her... one that has a long burning fuse. He does so... as she counts down until the explosion.


This chapter is the classic setback and re-set chapter. Rather than have the hero be able to save the day... the author gives the villain the day... and everything must be re-set for the final showdown.

Chapter 12
Duncan telephones Gabriela to meet him at the ferry where he carries Genevieve to shore. Gabriela is astounded at his story of modern men and women worshipping Khordas. She insists that the child will remain with her.

That night, Duncan is awakened by a voice singing under his window, and the feel of an immortal. Looking out, he sees Khordas in full salamander regalia. The immortal takes out a pocket watch and counts down.

The boarding house explodes in flames. Khordas has set a fire on the first floor. Duncan fights his way through the rising flames in an attempt to reach the only other occupied room on the upper floor... Gabriela's.

He sees Khordas in the hallway. The salamander calls him a puny boy... and again makes fun of the game. He will not give in to this nor kill the Highlander... that is not his purpose. When Duncan hears Gabriela beating at the door of her room... Khordas warns the Highlander not to open the door... that he truly does not understand the elements.

Duncan breaks down the door and is met suddenly by a wall of flame (backfire) fed by a sudden influx of oxygen. Within it... he can see the perishing forms of Gabriela and Genevieve. Then he sinks into unconsciousness.


A tightly constructed chapter as Duncan falls once more into Khordas' trap.

Chapter 13
Duncan re-awakens to the sound of Connor's voice. He'd found the younger Highlander's burned corpse under a bile of smoking wood, loaded it into a sack, and brought him to his ship.

Connor comments that Duncan is an unnaturally fast healer. But, he reads him the riot act for not changing his name and blending in better among immortals.

"But it's who I am!" protests Duncan.

"Never forget," Connor agrees, "but keep it inside instead of wearing it on the outside. I'm David Carruthers.

Duncan and Connor then discuss Khordas and his odd behavior which Connr decides isn't odd... it just hearkens back to what Khordas was long ago.

Duncan asks if there were another immortal in the ruins... but Connor says no, and Duncan wonders if he could have been wrong.

Once Duncan is completely healed, the two go ashore for a drink and to plan how best to end the Salamander's reign of terror.


The author deals with fire and an immortal. He also deals with the differences in the two men, and why one continues to use his name, while another hides it...

Duncan further notices that Connor's Scots accent is completely gone. It is as if Connor could be from anywhere.

When Duncan moans over Gabriela and Genevieve's deaths... Connor reminds him that he cannot retire from the game as he did before. He must play... because they are not playing for just themselves... but for all men.

Lots to think about in this chapter.

Chapter 14
While in the tavern, Duncan and Connor learn that two US Naval gunships will be in the Nantucket Harbor on Valentine's Day. They begin to put all the clues together, and decide that Khordas has planned for this and will commandeer the gunboats for a great conflagration in celebration of Nerissa's birthday.

Duncan wants to let the Navy know, but Connor indicates that they can't as he and his crew are smugglers. He will not risk them.

Aboard the Gratiano, Captain Bertrand Lewis goes about his duties of flinging mud over everything as he obeys the words of the Salamander. He passes him in a companionway and notes Khordas with the two prisoners... the child once saved and sent away by the companion, and a woman. Both will be thrown shrieking into the boiling mud. If they are true children of the Salamander, as Lewis hopes to be, they will survive.

Newport, Rhode, Island

Jacob Devereaux who recently searched Connor's boat, interviews a captive of the US Navy and learns that his shipment of guns was recently put aboard Carruthers'/Connor's ship and that Carruthers is in Nantucket. He lays plans to get to Massachusetts.

Aboard the Dido, Connor's ship, he introduces Duncan to the crew and explains about Khordas' plans to fire on innocents. the crew votes to follow Captain Carruthers on this mission.


So we learn that Gabriela and Genevieve still live... but for how long?

Chapter 15
Gabriela observes the former captain of the Graziano, Bertrand Lewis, now a lowly mud-slinger for the Salamnder and wonders what has become of him.

When Khordas wishes to know her name, she refuses to tell him, but relents and does so. Khordas tells her of his beloved Nerissa... the true companion... the sacrifice.

He indicates that he had placed Genevieve's mother and another child in the fire at Duncan's house to perish. He teases Gabriela with knowledge of what she is without truly revealing the truth, and finally he stabs her. His plan is for her to be his true companion... the new Nerissa... a proper sacrifice to him.


Aboard the Dido, Connor comes alongside the Troilus to warn them. Instead Jacob Devereaux is there with plans to board the ship and arrest its crew. Connor yells to them about the danger and then flees... hoping they took his warning seriously.


Back aboard the Graziano Khordas orders the eleven lifeboats to be outfitted as fireboats.


The woman and child who died in the boarding house were Genevieve's mother and another child.

It seems to me that Henderson was trying to overly complicate the plot at this point in the story by introducing a sub-plot about Connor's difficulties with the British "preventive" agent Devereaux.

Chapter 16
Valentine's Day 1897
Connor's ship hides among the flotilla of ships in Nantucket bay as he and Duncan observe events from the deck of Duncan's small yacht.

By 10 pm, they become concerned that they have misjudged Khordas. They then realize as they watch fireboats approach the bay, and a sulfurous dust spewed into the air by the Gratiano... that Khordas set fires on the 15 of Feb. for Nerissa... not the 14. They realize that the fireworks display set for midnight... will set off fires that no one can stop until they have raged out of control.

Aboard the Gratiano Lauren is told to command one of the fireboats. She does not understand... but follows his orders. Her boat will attack Connor's.

Below, Genevieve, fully under the Salamander's spell, awakens the now immortal Gabriela from the burning mud. The Argentine is to be the new Companion.


Finally things get going again.

Chapter 17
In the fireboat... Lauren the Companion begins to recall who she is... or was... before finding Khordas in the mud. She makes herself sick and rids her system of the root of faith. She orders the fireboat to turn about and makes for the Gratiano.

Duncan MacLeod attempts to stop another fireboat by swimming toward it. The people aboard ignore him. He hangs onto the boat and is carried along with it.

On a floating pier, the alderman has trouble striking a match. Connor arrives and convinces him not set off the fireworks.

Duncan manages to climb into the fireboat and begins knocking the men into the water. Taking control of the boat... he begins to row it away from the docks.

Khordas sees that Lauren's fireboat is returning. He orders the Graziano to fire on it

One fireboat attaches to the Troilus, another to the Cressida.

Connor sees Lauren's fireboat explode when fired upon and ignite the sulfur in the air. Explosions begin to happen about the bay.

The Cressida is able to water down the fireboat attached to it... but the one attached to the Troilus explodes.

Gabriela numbly watches the explosions... and some part of her mind recalls her father's ship, the Andrew. She shakes herself free of Khordas' control and attempts to help the passengers get off the Graziano onto the Dido, which has come alongside. She recognizes Connor as an immortal... and he assures her that he is a friend.

She turns in time to see Duncan come aboard. He smiles at her... and then angrily pursues Khordas into the depths of the ship.


A lot happens simultaneously in this chapter.

Chapter 18
Khordas and Duncan are in the engine room of the Graziano where Khordas threatens to blow up the ship.

Duncan taunts him that he is alone once more... that his so-called "Children" are even now escaping.

Khordas screams that he lies and that his Companion is doing his bidding.

Duncan says he has lost her too. "You are alone Khordas!"

Khordas throws his incendiary device into the boiler as he escapes up a vertical passageway. Duncan follows... trying to out-climb the explosion.

He feels the heat pass over him and heals. He keeps pursuing Khordas who throws another device down. Again Duncan climbs after him.

They fight with knives but Khordas escapes. Duncan continues to pursue him. when he emerges from the shaft, he sees Khordas rowing away.

Using his katana to cut a cable... he swings out over the boat and drops into it where he and Khordas at last have their swordfight.

Finding naptha in the bottom of the boat, Duncan grasps a handful of the liguid fire and throws it into Khordas' face.

Shrieking in pain... Khordas drops his guard and MacLeod strikes.

"There can be only one," he says and then spreads his arms to accept the most ancient of all quickenings. He struggles within it to remember who he is and to understand who Khordas was. He is... "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod" and that keeps him grounded and sane. He also accepts that the Game is everything... the prize is everything.


Rather than describing what we "see" of the quickening, Henderson describes it in terms of what Duncan understands. He alternates scraps of conversation of Connor teaching him to fight with scraps of Khordas' pain at the death of his worshippers and his loneliness.

Over drinks at a tavern, Connor and Duncan discuss immortality and what it means with Gabriela. She indicates that she has left Genevieve at an orphanage.

Connor tells Gabriela to preserve who she is and keep it at the core of her being as she faces the long centuries ahead.

Duncan indicates that immortals are lone wolves... but sometimes they associate with one another. He will not train her... but he knows someone "out west" who will. Meanwhile, he and Gabriela can travel together and enjoy one another.


The conversation also mentions that Lauren (Drake) may still be alive but that she may have to deal with what she did by herself.

Profiles of Original Immortals in The Element of Fire


Alias: the Salamander
Born: pre-history, Scotland
Distinguishing characteristics: Flaming red hair; muscular build, tall, very agile
Age at Death: unknown
First Death: likely burned alive in the boiling mud as a sacrifice by his people; became the living incarnation of the god when he returned to life.
Mentor: none
Death: 15 Feb 1897, Nantucket Harbor
Quickening: to Duncan MacLeod

Alias: the Companion
Born: pre-history, Scotland
Age at Death: unknown, but described as a girl
Distinguishing Characteristics: Albino, white hair
First Death: burned alive in the boiling mud as a sacrifice by her people
Mentor: Khordas
Death: May 1632, Rannock Moor
Quickening: to Duncan MacLeod

Amber Lynn
Alias: none
Born: ca. 1830-1833 likely England
Age at Death: unknown, but a young woman between 20 and 23
Distinguishing Characteristics: yellow hair; a mid-wife and herbalist
First Death: Drowned as a witch in October of 1853
Mentor: Duncan MacLeod
Death: March or April 1854
Quickening: to Lauren

Aliases: the Companion, Mrs. George Drake, Lauren Drake
Born: 1707 Wales, adopted, youngest of four
Age at death: 30
Distinguishing Characteristics: Flaming red hair
First Death: 1737; killed by men pursuing her as a highwaywoman, thief and murderer
Mentor: Khordas whom she found and dug out of the mud
Quickening: still alive

Gabriela Maria Cuara de Savedra
Aliases: none
Born: 1870's in Argentina
Distinguishing Characteristics: small, dark-haired
First Death: 14 Feb 1897 Nantucket Harbor; killed by Khordas to awaken her immortality
Mentor: Duncan MacLeod, "someone out west"
Quickening: still alive

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In the end, all shall be one

In the end, all shall be one.