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The Hessian

From the personal journals of Mikanostinocolai, timelord

Chapter 1

People have often asked me how I came to require my first regeneration.  I usually just tell them I wanted to see what would happen, or it was nothing...  But that's not the truth.  The truth is that I am reluctant to speak of what happened for it is quite painful.  Not so much the event that led to the necessity of regenerating, but the circumstances surrounding it.  But now nearly 2100 years have passed and I feel that I owe it to those who have known me all this time to tell them the truth.  It's really pretty silly, I suppose.  But maybe that's another part of why I have remained silent for so long.

Now, I'm sure that most everyone knows of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow...  that quaint little story written by Washington Irving about the schoolteacher, Ichabod Crane, who was frightened into disappearance by a local boy dressing up as the supposed Headless Horseman.  Cute.  Only that's not the real story.  Late in 1999, a film producer named Tim Burton came forth with his own version ... which turned out to be more like the real story.  In 1799, Ichabod Crane was a police detective in New York City who was sent to investigate several murders in the upstate village of Sleepy Hollow, just north of North Tarrytown, mostly because his strange gadgets and unorthodox 'scientific' procedures were getting on his superiors' nerves.  There, he learned of the legend of the evil Hessian soldier who had been captured and beheaded some twenty years hence, and who has since been purported to have risen from the grave to behead people in the village.  Crane eventually discovers that this legend is actually fact, and that the horseman is bound to do the bidding of whomever holds his skull.

It is this legendary Horseman with whom my own tale lies.

I had visited the Sleepy Hollow of this time and observed Mr. Crane in his investigations, while maintaining a low profile.  The Legend of this Hessian intrigued me, and I must admit, stirred my compassionate soul.  I had begun to ponder just what could have made this fellow so enraged that lopping off people's heads had become his life's… or death’s ambition?  Being young and foolish, I decided to find out... and to see what I could do about it.  Surely the history of one relatively insignificant fellow could be changed.  Alas, this was my first hard lesson in the immutability of history and time...

It was the winter of 1779.  I had landed my TARDIS in Hesse-Kassel, what would now be considered modern-day Germany, after determining that whoever the unfortunate Hessian soldier was, I would be able to seek him out.  I needn't have bothered.  In that quirky way that time and fate have of playing things out, he found me.   I was trying to traverse a busy thoroughfare in the heart of Kassel, when I was nearly run down by a runaway horse and carriage.  I saw it coming but was uncharacteristically frozen in my tracks as the snarling horse barreled down upon me.  At last I tried to move but my feet became entangled in the long hem of my period dress, so unaccustomed was I to wearing such cumbersome things.  I watched in fascinated horror as I pondered what I would look like when I regenerated, when suddenly, I felt two strong hands grab me by the arms, and lift me out of harm's way.

I turned around to thank my rescuer, only to come face to face with the same wild visage that I had seen retreat to the netherworld some 20 years later in Sleepy Hollow.  Only now his eyes were more 'normal' and his teeth were not pointed.  But his hair was still a wild shock of black and his eyes were the eeriest shade of blue.

I guess he expected me to scream or run away or something.  But I could only stare... and smile.  I laugh now when I think of the look on his face when I did that.  I guess a smile was the last thing he expected.

"Are you all right, madam?" I remember him asking me, his voice a deep, yet gentle Germanic clip.  He quickly let go of my arms as if afraid he would be punished for it or something.  In fact, I noticed that he continuously kept watch, almost fearful that someone would see us together.  It was so noticeable that I had to ask.

"Yes, thank you," I said.  "I am most grateful.  You saved my life.  Is there.. something wrong?"  I fixed him with the full force of my deep, violet eyes.  I tried to 'see' into his mind.  It was all a jumble, but I could sense a deep hatred of other people.. and of other people for him.  He looked at me strangely as I asked my question.  "What are you afraid of?" I added.

"Afraid?  I am afraid of no one.  But I fear for your safety, lest the townspeople see you with me..." he all but spat the word townspeople.  There was way more to this than met the eye.  I had to know.  Was this what had turned him to lopping off people's heads?  Surely not.  This man was intelligent, dedicated, and fiercely loyal, that much I could see.  It would take something nearly catastrophic to him to turn him down that evil road.

I apologized and tried another smile.  "Forgive me, but why should the townspeople care if we are together?  You saved my life; surely they could not begrudge a lady thanking such a man?"

He looked puzzled.  I could see the questions forming in his mind..."Why doesn't she scream and run and spit at me like all the others?  What purpose does she have in pretending to be kind to me?"  Of course, this just piqued my curiosity more.  But I had to be careful of what I said, lest I be branded a witch and burnt at the stake... or whatever it was they did to witches here.

"You are a stranger here.  Trust me; you do not want to be seen with me.  You don't want to be with me at all."  His words were spoken with a tainted rancor, but his eyes held a sadness that tugged at my very heartstrings.  As suddenly as he had appeared, he started to march off.  He was a tall man, over six feet, and he strode with a powerful step, the spurs on his boots jingling in the dirty snow.  I hitched up my skirts and ran after him.

"Please, sir, do not leave me.  I haven't thanked you properly.  'Tis no small feat to save a woman's life."

"You owe me nothing, madam," he whirled on me, his blue eyes blazing with that fire that I had seen that night that the Headless Horseman was sent back to hell.  "Please, leave me be.  Good day."

I watched him as he strode off; his head hung low, the tall collar of his cloak making him seem from the back like he had no head.  It was quite an eerie premonition.  I decided to give him time and try again later.  Meanwhile, I would secure some lodgings hereabouts and see what information I could scare up from the locals.

I approached a local hostelry where the manager was out front sweeping snow from the walkway.  Apparently he had seen all that had transpired.  Perhaps here was a good source of information, albeit somewhat colored by superstitious prejudice as most people of that time period were.

"Here, milady.  You'd best be careful o' that fellow," the innkeeper greeted me as I approached.

"And why is that, kind sir?" I answered, careful not to be too defensive at first.  "He saved my life.  Surely you saw that as well?  'Tis only proper to thank him."

"Aye, but even so.  That man has the evil eye.  Death and the devil follow him wherever he goes.  Just you be careful."  He followed me into the warmth of the lobby.  Here, many people were gathered about the cozy fireplace, chatting and drinking and playing silly parlor games.  A young serving girl asked if I would like anything.  I asked for a cup of tea, to which she scurried off in search of.

"Why do you say he is evil?  Surely he would not have rescued a total stranger if he was evil?" I said as I removed my gloves to sign the register.  Mlle. Mika Colai I signed.  (Of course later I would merely use the surname Smith if I needed one.  I had not as yet met the Doctor upon my travels though.)

"Ahh, French I presume?" he asked, apparently trying to change the subject.  It was clear I would get no more out of him.

"Erm, yes," I lied.  "I am traveling through your fine country on my way back to Paris.  I might stay here a few days though.  This town intrigues me."  I turned and studied the people in the room.  Funny how they all looked rather alike to me.  All were in the same general dress of the period, knee breeches and fat tummies, tri-cornered hats and tailed waistcoats.  The ladies were all in similar dresses of varied muted colors, all very drab and monotonous.  Powdered wigs were abundant, and the wine seemed to flow as easily as the ladies' favors.  Not exactly the Hilton, but it would do.  Besides, it was near where I had encountered the Hessian, so perhaps he came by here often?  I could only hope.

I turned as I felt a tug at my elbow.  The young serving girl had returned with my tea.  I thanked her and slipped her a small token of my gratitude, to which she smiled and curtsied.   As she took her leave, she turned and rushed back to whisper in my ear.  "I know of the man ye seekest.  Meet me in thy rooms at cockcrow and I shall tell ye what ye want to know."  She bustled off and I stared after her, not even noticing when a dancing couple, drunk on wine and song, bumped into me, nearly causing me to spill my tea.  They apologized and I just shoved them off in the opposite direction.

The innkeeper asked if I wanted to be shown to my room.  I nodded and he came around and picked up the one small bag I had brought and led me up the stairs.  I continued to watch the goings on around me as I followed him, sipping my tea as I did so.

My room was small, but remarkably clean.  It had a bureau, a single bed, a washbasin with towels, and a small writing desk.  There was a single window that overlooked the street out front.  This was perfect.  Now if I saw my Hessian walk by I would be able to spot him with ease.  I sat the teacup down on the desk and turned to my host.  He seemed to be hovering for something.  I nodded knowingly and pulled a silver coin from the small drawstring purse I had about my wrist and handed it to him.  He smiled and nodded and said if there was anything else I required to let him or the serving girls know.

As he bowed out and drew the door to, he looked at me, all traces of a smile gone from his face.  "Please, Mlle. Colai.  Stay away from that man.  He is dangerous."  Then he left.  Curiouser and curiouser.

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