BETWEEN ONE STEP AND ANOTHER
by Leslie Fish
"Methos, are you all right?"
"I...have to lie down..."
"The barge is right here."
I remember now. I remember...
"Keep moving your feet. On up the gangplank. Just a few more steps..."
The binding of powers...
"Your powers are very great."
"Easy, easy. Lie down. I'll get these shoes off."
The goddess! Her great dark eyes...
"You may use them one of two ways. You may become a god on Earth - reading minds, seeing at vast distance, moving wind or fire or stone at will - for all of a mortal lifespan, as I have done."
"Here. Drink slowly. Easy..."
"Or you may leave them as they are, in the service of life - your life, which may then go on forever - but with no other magic."
"Methos, what's happening? Can you tell me?"
"...Memory. Bad memory."
"Why is it hitting you now? What set it off?"
"A god on Earth for fifty years, or a powerless Immortal for ages. Choose."
"I choose life."
"I chose life!"
"So be it."
"...I'd say that was the right choice. But what happened?"
"I bind your ka to your body, I bind your powers to your life, I bind your very memory, to the extent of my own powers - full five thousand years."
"I chose to live. The goddess..."
"Another Immortal...with great psychic ability...a goddess on Earth."
"If it happen that you live so long, my spell shall end - and you shall be free to choose again."
"She's gone now. Long gone."
...She died of old age, like a mortal. Took all her Quickening-power and used it...making miracles, being a goddess. She loved power. I...loved life.
"Methos, what did she do to you?"
"Gave me a choice. She knew how to divert the Quickening-power from sustaining the body to...anything else. Telepathy, precognition, telekinesis... Miracles. Incredible things. A goddess. A legend."
"But what was the choice?"
"...She offered to teach me, make me like her - a god."
"Uh, what was the price-tag?"
"Short life. Mortal lifespan. Use the power for magic, and you don't...use it to sustain your body. She used it up, wore it out, and died within fifty years."
"So you chose to live. The right decision, Methos."
"But I forgot it, for a very long time."
"So she never taught you the secret?"
Yes. I could do it now, if I wanted. Make the change, become a god, rule the world - with the accumulated power of five thousand years. I could do it. ...For maybe fifty years. And then die.
"So you became one sort of legend, and she...became another? Do you remember what her name was?"
"Au-set. Later called Ish-Ish. The Greeks translated it as...Isis."
And in five thousand years I've seen the world change beyond belief. Mere mortals have made inventions whose powers dwarf hers. What will they create in another five millennia?
I will live to see it. I choose to go on as I have been.
"So you chose long life, rather than god-like power. The right choice, Methos."
I choose life.