The Time Machine Strikes Again (Part Five)

4 05 2010

And we continue on in the hopes of someday reaching a climax in this story of my late-night brain….

It took Richmond the better portion of the morning to outline his plan to my satisfaction. My mind was ever of an argumentative bent and facing this scholarly friend over the board brought every academic impulse surging to the surface. I forced him to defend his plan from every angle and every weapon I could conceive.

The servants served the midday meal, the heaviest meal of the day, as we were wrapping up our discussion. Our talk had made me tired again, and not a little afraid. It was one thing to come back in time and interact with a people hopelessly inferior in technology, intellect and scope. It was another game entirely to contemplate direct conflict with a man so far advanced as to reduce my friend and myself to intellectual amoeba.

“There is still a matter that I cannot resolve.” I poured myself wine and propped my feet on an enormous iron grating before the fire. “Why, if Merlin is so advanced, does he linger yet in this slop-pit of an era?”

“Not having had rational converse with the man I cannot answer for him.” Richmond’s face was relaxed and a dim light seem to shine on his face. “But I might hazard the supposition that he is a lover of power. And power is readily at hand to a man of his peculiar circumstances who chooses to operate here. “

“But you know nothing of the particulars?”

“Only that he fell in many years ago with a young man named “Arturius”, the Arthur of our legends no doubt. He uses the boy like a puppet.”

“The lad is a fool, then?”

“By no means! Were he given the benefit of an Oxford education I’ve no doubt he would shine in the crown of great British minds. But he is a bastard raised on a god-forsaken manor some distance north of here. His wife is a Pict and a scheming woman if ever I’ve heard of one.”

“How do you know all of this if you’ve had no converse with Merlin?”

“The way people have been hearing news since the first man learned to form words.” He chuckled. “I have my spies, as Merlin has his. Mine perform better as I pay them in goods instead of fear.”

I was honestly amazed. Here was Richmond, prince of bookworms and shunner of all mankind- both as a unit and as individuals- performing acts of intrigue that would have impressed a Senator of ancient Rome.

“I must admit to you, Richmond, that I have no great desire to meet this formidable man. Can we not just use the Machine to return ourselves to modern Surrey and leave him to rot here?”

“You could. Unfortunately Merlin knows what he is about and used his technology to bind me here. I cannot tell you exactly how he did it but I know that it works. I should have told you last night but when Merlin sent the Machine back I made a rather desperate attempt to return with it. I leapt onto the Machine and grabbed tight but when it disappeared I did not. Instead I fell hard some distance. Broke two of my ribs. Damned painful thing to happen in an era without morphine or opium.”

“I would imagine so. You have no idea how he achieved this ‘binding’?”

“None at all. He seems to be a master of time manipulation.”

“And this is who we’re going up against? Richmond have you grown senile?” My eyes twinkled but I was half serious.

Richmond laughed. “Not senile, Viktor. But old, very old.”

He stood and crossed back to the window, rubbing a hand idly along his jaw. I watched the light play across his face, content to wait while he thought.

I’m sure to an observer it must have been a curious tableau. The modern European  gentleman sipping wine while the medieval English lord ponders matters unfathomable. I felt the weirdness of our plight in every fiber of my being, but it was mixed with a heady exhilaration that had nothing to do with the wine.  This was an adventure I had never imagined.

Richmond spoke after many minutes. “Honestly, Viktor, I have spent as much time considering whether I should attempt to return home as I have how to achieve such a journey. Part of me yet argues that I need to send you back instantly before Merlin’s spies reach him with the news of your arrival. I do not want you to share my fate and I am already old. Where I die matters little.”

Such a speech was intolerable to my warm heart. “Richmond stop instantly. Of course you must come home. And I will not leave you in this wretched place alone. Not ever.”

My friend’s eyes grew dim. It was an unusual moment for both of us. We lived lives of stale academia and warmth of any kind was foreign. Foreign but certainly not unwelcome.

Richmond gathered himself together and the moment passed. His eyes grew sharp as flint and bored holes into mine.

“Well Viktor, prepare yourself. In several days you will be standing before the legendary King Arthur.”

“If Merlin doesn’t kill us first.”





One response

5 05 2010

*seal claps* More more more more

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