|The Unintentional Time-Travelers
Author: the mummer's folly PM
After losing her job, Elaine Sholt sets out to find a better life. Instead, she finds four strangers who may change her life forever. First in a series. Rating may go as high as M in later chapters, to be safe.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Chapters: 8 - Words: 13,288 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 02-16-13 - Published: 01-01-13 - id: 3088205
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 3: An elaborate prank
"What are you doing?! Are you crazy?" Elaine jumped out of her car, white-faced and angry. The four men stood rooted to the spot, staring at her in shock. Three of them were wearing full-fledged medieval plate armor, the kind that covered them from head to foot. The fourth wore what looked like a very baggy, bright blue t-shirt with yellow fleur-de-lis. They looked like they had just come from a Renaissance fair.
One of the armored men, the pointed visor of his helmet raised to show his face, stepped forward and cleared his throat, but when he spoke Elaine couldn't understand a word he said.
"I – what?" She frowned. The man frowned, too, and spoke again. It sounded like a question; the man seemed confused, even scared. His voice was rising. Suddenly, Elaine caught a word or two she knew and realized what language he was speaking.
It was French, but not like she'd ever heard it spoken. Elaine had travelled to France and Haiti during college and had never heard an accent this thick.
"Calmez! Settle down!" The man stopped speaking abruptly. There was a spark of recognition in his eye. Then he started speaking again, even faster.
"Slow down! I can't understand you!" Elaine said in French. The man looked taken aback, then began again, slower. This is what he said, as best Elaine understood it.
"Pray, Madame, in what land are we, and who are you? And what is this... thing –" He motioned to the car – "that came upon us so fast and then spat you out?"
"It's my car," said Elaine shortly, "and why are you speaking Old French?"
Elaine took a deep breath and stared at them. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, she could think about this more clearly. She regarded the spokesman evenly.
"Are you with the SCA? Is this some kind of joke?" The man glanced back at his fellows for support. Their armor clinked as they shrugged. He turned back.
"Madame, I do not understand. In what land are we?"
It must be a prank, Elaine thought. She didn't know the area well, but a place as big as the DC Metro Area must have an SCA presence of some kind. There were probably hidden cameras filming her at that moment; in a week the footage would be all over Youtube.
"Nice job, guys," she said in English, smiling and shaking her head. "Your Old French is really impressive. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm not really in the mood for this and I have someplace to be." She turned away to get into her car. At this, an outraged expression crossed the spokesman's face. He stomped toward Elaine, speaking angrily in Old French.
"You dare offer me this impertinence?"
Elaine turned, immediately defensive. One of the others, the man in the blue shirt, rushed forward to put himself between the two. Just then Elaine's phone went off.
Both men jumped and looked around franticly for the source of the sound. They looked completely shocked; Elaine could only stare at them. Her phone jingled again.
"I'm gonna get that," she told them in English. Neither gave any sign that they understood. Cautiously, Elaine reached into her car and picked up her phone.
"Elaine? Are you okay? What happened?" It was Rory.
"I almost got in an accident. I'm fine."
The blue-shirted man was looking uncertainly at Elaine. He stepped forward, making a placating gesture. "Please, Madame, forgive my lord's outburst, we only wish to know –" He was getting too close for Elaine's comfort. Without losing ground, she put out a hand so that he could either stop or plow into it.
"Dude! Back off."
"What's going on?" Rory's voice was sharp, anxious.
Blue-Shirt was trying to speak again, totally disregarding the fact that Elaine was on the phone. She talked over him.
"Can you come get me? I'm about halfway down Game Preserve Road and these reenactor guys are starting to freak me out."
"Okay, hang on. Stay on the phone. I'm on my way."
Meanwhile the two armored men who had hung back had moved up and were speaking to the man in the basinet helmet, casting nervous looks at Elaine. Blue-Shirt seemed to have gotten the message and stepped back. There was a look in his eyes of deep uncertainty. Elaine's temper started to rise. Are they ever gonna cut it out? They must have enough footage for this thing to go viral. And this gag wasn't even funny to start with. Unless it wasn't a gag. There was something unfeigned and serious in the mixture of fear, confusion, and curiosity they were showing.
"Hang on, Rory, I'm gonna talk to these guys." She tipped the phone so she wasn't speaking directly into it and addressed the four men. "Hey, what do you want?"
They all stared at her. Blue-Shirt began speaking again in French.
Ooookay, then. French it is. She repeated her question in that language. Blue-Shirt looked slightly relieved that communication had be resumed.
"We want only to know where we are, Madame, and who you are, that we might better understand how we got here."
"What do you mean? Why don't you speak English?"
Blue-Shirt looked confused. "As you wish, Madame." His next words were very nearly indecipherable. He watched her face expectantly.
"What?" Elaine finally blurted.
"Madame asked me to speak in English, and so I did." Confusion was starting to creep back into his face.
A part of Elaine's mind she referred to as "the oh-crap-o-meter" began going off furiously. "Who are you?"
Instead of introducing himself, the man motioned to the others. "My lord Charles, Duc D'Orleans; my lord Maréchal Jehan le Maingre, called Boucicaut;* and my lord Charles D'Albret, Constable of France. And I am Christophe Montjoy, herald to the king of France."
Duke? Herald? Is this for real?
"Will you tell us where we are, Madame?"
Where in relation to what? Elaine tried to marshal her thoughts. "Game Preserve Road." They just stared, confused. "You're in Gaithersburg, near Washington D.C." The words clearly meant nothing to them. "America. The United States of America."
One of the armored men, the one that Blue-Shirt – Montjoy? – had introduced as a duke, pushed forward. "How far is that from Paris?"
"Uhh... it's on the other side of the ocean."
The men glanced at each other.
"So that's why she asked him to speak in English," said the one called Boucicaut, scratching under his helmet.
"No," said Charles D'Albret in his basinet helm. "I've been to Angleterre. This isn't it."
Elaine caught onto what they were saying. "No, not the English Channel. Across the ocean. West."
Boucicaut appeared to be thinking. "I've heard that learned men say that, since the world is round, if you sail west long enough you'll eventually come back around to the East."
"Yes, I've heard that," said Charles D'Albret.
"What did you say the name of this country is, again?" asked Montjoy.
"America," Elaine told him.
"America," he said, sounding it out. His brow furrowed.
"Cathay," Boucicaut announced. "If we've gone west over the sea, we must be in Cathay."
"I don't remember crossing any sea," snapped D'Albret.
"Wait," offered Montjoy. "America sounds Italian. Perhaps we're in Italy?"
"We're not in Italy," said the duke with complete certainty.
"I still don't think this is Cathay," mused D'Albret. "Maybe Constantinople. There are supposed to be wonders there; that might explain this." He motioned again to the car. "And you have to cross the sea to get there."
"Yes," said Boucicaut shortly, "going East. And this isn't Constantinople. I would know. I've been to Constantinople –"
"When did we cross any ocean?" demanded the duke.
"You still there?" It was Rory, over the phone. "Hang on, I'm coming."
"Hurry up," said Elaine. "I'm not sure if these guys are crazy or I am."
* Boucicaut: pronounced "boo see co."