The Time Machine Strikes Again (Some more)

27 04 2010

Part Two

It took me a painfully long time to find an open space from which I hoped to observe the stars. When I did stumble into an open area it took every ounce of my remaining strength to stay standing. The sun was setting behind me and the shadows of the trees stretched across an open, cultivated field. Rows of corn poked through dark soil and a cow grazed near me, staked to a convenient tree. She raised liquid brown eyes and lowed at me peevishly. Neither the corn nor the cow gave me any reason for concern. The castle perched on a low mound overlooking the fields, however, stopped me cold.

I gasped a few times and strained my eyes to the far horizon. I saw nothing save the castle and a few dirty hovels huddled around its’ walls or scattered among the fields. My mind swam and I searched again but saw trees and the impossible castle smack in the middle of what should be Surrey.

The dirty, rag-clad peasantry tramping toward the castle were the last straw. I sat down hard on the grassy border of the wood. It was as though I had stumbled into a medieval work of fiction and the strength flowed out of my bones. I had not, then, traveled forward in time. Somehow the wretched machine had dumped me in the Dark Ages.

The shadows stretched longer as I prayed fervently that I had somehow missed the Roman era and likewise that no marauding Pict would kill me before I figured a way home. I had always been shaky on British history (even my Austrian history was vague) and had no way of knowing whether I would be less likely to die at this time than any other.

There was nothing to do but gather my wits together and get back to the Machine. There was nothing to be gained from lingering in the gathering gloom. Watching a squalid castle grow ever more squalid as night fell would avail me nothing. It was a good plan.

Unfortunately, the man behind me, his sword point suddenly pressing on my spine had other ideas.

If I were anything but a sore, lost, idiotic scientist I probably would have heard him approach. As it is he had to heave me up by my bruised arm and swing me around to face him before I fully comprehended my plight. The man was dressed in a simple tunic, some kind of hide breeches and tall boots. His breath stank and his teeth were blackened in a youngish face. I would have put his age at twenty-five but he didn’t give me a chance.

“Who art thou? And for what purpose do you tarry here?”

My tongue cleaved to the roof of my mouth and no answer formed. Something about his reek and my own terrible dilemma made intelligent thought impossible.

He waited only a moment for an answer but my stupefied look decided him.  He twisted my arm painfully behind me and marched me toward the castle.

The wretched building was farther away than it looked. It was full dark by the time we reached it and my only impression was of a hulking misshapen darkness rising above me, preparing to swallow me in a dank maw. We were challenged at the gate, then again at an inner door but each time my escort grunted something and we were allowed through.

My feet scuffed stone and straw and the smells were indescribably. Once we entered the castle the feeling of traveling down a putrefying corps’ throat only grew worse. After endless tunnel-like halls and shadowy nooks we reached a final great door. My guard sneered at me then pounded on the thick oak with the handle of his sword. We waited several long moments, my heartbeat pounding in my ears.

The door swung open and I was shoved through into a cavernous space. I could see very little besides small pools of torchlight and an enormous chair pulled up near a roaring fire. It must have been some kind of great room but it was empty except for myself and a figure silhouetted against the fire.

“Leave us.” The figure gestured at the man behind me and I heard the great door slam shut. “Approach, sirrah.”

I obeyed, not knowing what else to do. As I approached the fire the figure turned in profile and I began to discern a face. I came to stand before him and my heart almost stopped.

“Richmond?!” I gasped.

“Viktor!” My old friend grimaced. “You should not have come.”

Part Three tomorrow.

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4 responses

28 04 2010
NinjaEditor

Ahhh!!!! *flails* So awesome!

It’s like I’m reading Wells, except it’s much more enjoyable. 😀

28 04 2010
Idhrendur

Again, I like!

Though I’m faced with a dilemma: do I assume the author knows her medieval history and is carefully setting up the background, or do I assume a generic medieval-ish background and not over-think things? Either way it’s a fun story, but still…

28 04 2010
Meghan

One should never over-think something that is written in installments at eleven o’clock at night. 🙂
You’ll enjoy it more if you don’t assume I am more clever/better at researching than I truly am.

28 04 2010
Idhrendur

A consequence of reading much well-researched historical fiction lately, I’m afraid. I’ll stop trying to pin down the century and refrain from actually checking when any castles near Surrey were built. 😉

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