The Time Machine Strikes Again (Part 8)

11 05 2010

This will be my last free evening for a while. Work starts back up again tomorrow and I don’t want to leave the ninja on the edge of her seat. Her butt cheeks will go numb! (Can you refer to that portion of a ninja’s anatomy?)

We were not thrown in a dungeon, which I considered a good sign. If Arthur had not feared me he would have put us all in irons. Or on the rack, or in an iron maiden. Medieval methods of punishment were wonderfully varied.

Richmond and I found ourselves, along with our erstwhile vanguard, in a medium sized sleeping chamber. The furnishings were rich and there was a flagon of wine on the table. Richmond settled in and poured wine for himself and for me. He nodded a sort of “at ease” to the men and they sat noisily in the corner farthest from the door.

No-one spoke. It was very possible that we were even now under observation. We could not let it be known that Richmond and I were well able to communicate or Merlin might wonder at his bringing the “magician” to the palace to be dealt with. I felt as though I were walking a tight rope blindfolded.

In an effort to appear nonchalant and powerful I hummed snatches of music as I drank the wine.

Luckily, we didn’t have long to wait.

Stone floors do not transfer sound well and so we had no warning before the door swung open. Richmond jumped to his feet in a decrepit sort of way. I stayed seated but allowed my eyes to turn toward the door.

The man standing before us must have been almost two meters tall, a veritable giant. His robes were cut well and of poppy red velvet. A jeweled collar hung heavy around his neck and lent weight to his person. It was his face that arrested my eyes, though. Framed by oiled black hair it seemed like a flat white mask. His eyes were merely holes bored through plaster, his mouth an uncommunicative slit. If he is a sample of what men look like in the future I regret very much our degeneration.

The mask cracked after several long moments and a deep, knell-like baritone rolled forth. “Who is this, Richmond? What game are you playing?” The figure swept into the room bringing with him the scent of musk and cold north wind.

Richmond sat, sighing heavily. “I was hoping you could tell me who he is as I can make neither heads nor tails of it. There is no game, man. He could not be allowed to roam free.”

Merlin turned his gaze to me and something inside myself whimpered. It was an alien face and its’ strangeness frightened me. “Who are you?” he demanded. His accent was unfamiliar but he spoke English.

I stared at him, though it took every ounce of my strength to meet his eyes and make no reply.

“Who are you?” He bent over my chair and his odor filled my senses. It made my head swim.

In a moment of idiotic inspiration I waved him away commandingly and stood, looking at Richmond questioningly. I would play my part to perfection if there was an God to help me.

The mask broke again as Merlin’s nostrils flared wildly. It was a bestial reaction and bravery welled up within me. Merlin may be from the future but he was a man for all that, with a man’s emotion and a man’s fallibility.

Anger practically spat from his lips as he demanded once more “Who are you?”

Richmond stood then. “He does not speak English, nor Latin nor French. I have tried all three.”

Merlin seemed frustrated by this, like a bull who charges a matador but runs suddenly into a stone wall. After a moments silent consideration he turned away from me and addressed Richmond again.

“What do you expect me to do with him?”

“I only know that he does not come from my time, his technology far exceeds my own knowledge. As of now he has not felt threatened, he thinks me a friend. But if I let him wander unimpeded he might bring the entire nation around our ears.”

“I could kill him.” Merlin appraised me.

“You could try.” Richmond’s voice was calm. “But what if you fail, for whatever reason, and he grows angry. There is no way of knowing whether he would not then kill you.

“What do you suggest?” His voice was an audible sneer.

“Why not just get rid of him?” Richmond sat again, every inch the old man.

Merlin’s head shot up and he stared at Richmond. “Get rid of him?”

“You have the technology, do you not? Just send him to another Time, preferably in the future in case he does decide to destroy Britian.” There was a long pause. “Or are you not able?”

“Of course I can. I can send him anywhere and any Time I choose.”

Richmond waved one hand idly, managing to communicate both acknowledgement and unbelief.

I broke in then, uttering a long string of nonsensical words in a questioning tone.

Merlin turned toward me and his face bent in a mockery of a smile. He probably meant it to be reassuring. He looked at me, and his tone was soft but his words were directed at Richmond. “I think I’ll try killing him first.”

Richmond should have been an actor. His voice was completely neutral. “As you wish.”

“Of course it’s as I wish, fool. That is how things are done here.”

Merlin swept out the doors in a blaze of red and glinting jewels. I sat down heavily and swore.

Richmond, on the other hand, laughed heartily. “Never fear friend. You’re not dead yet!”

Oddly, the words were not reassuring.

Next time tune in to hear about Merlin’s linguistic deficiencies, the martial order of Camelot and why Arthur is such a prat…. Or maybe not…

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3 responses

11 05 2010
NinjaEditor

With regard to portions of my anatomy, I am seated comfortably in the exact middle of my chair—anticipating future installments, but mostly okay with the temporary stopping point. (I say “mostly” because occasionally I will think, “OH NOES WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO OUR FEARLESS PROTAGONIST” and then have to calm myself down.)

11 05 2010
Meghan

Ha ha. Spend the time wisely and write a story for me! Please please please?

13 05 2010
Idhrendur

Caught up now! I was out of town (meeting our favorite NinjaEditor), and then I had forgotten to put this in my RSS reader, so I forgot you had been updating.

Still enjoying it. Here’s hoping you have time to write more soon.

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