Rendezvous With Yesterday(9)

By: Dianne Duvall

So, if these guys were European, chances were good that they knew at least one of those.

“Well?” she prompted.

All looked to the leader, who spoke again. He almost sounded like a Scandinavian person speaking English for the first time.

Beth frowned. “Wait. Speak slower, please.” For a minute there, it had sounded vaguely familiar.

When the leader merely looked confused, she said again, lengthening the words dramatically, “Speeeeeeeak slooooooooower, pleeeeeeese.”

While he still didn’t seem to understand her words, he did seem to catch her meaning and obligingly spoke much slower.

Beth stared. Middle English? That’s what they were speaking? Sheesh. No wonder it sounded so weird. She had had a heck of a time learning it when her English professor mother had encouraged her to read rural English literature of the Middle Ages in its original form. And she doubted she would have learned to speak it at all without her talent for learning languages. Josh had had a heck of a time getting it down.

Why the hell would these guys be speaking Middle English?

“Oh, wait,” she said suddenly. “I get it. You’re one of those reenactment groups, right?” If they had learned to speak Middle English, they must be really dedicated to their roles.

When they all just sat there, looking puzzled, she did her best to translate, trotting out her rusty Middle English. But she couldn’t always find a medieval equivalent for the modern words she wished to use. “Are you members of a reenactment group?”

The redhead frowned. “Can you not see we are knights?”

Right. Knights in an apparently fanatical reenactment group if they wouldn’t deign to speak modern English. “Where are the rest of you?” she asked, still struggling to translate on the fly and get the archaic pronunciation right.

“There are only the four of us,” the leader responded, eyebrows colliding as his gaze traveled over her. He had shoulder-length, wavy black hair and bright blue eyes that seemed almost to glow in comparison to his tanned skin.

“No,” Beth said, then mentally cursed. “Nay, I mean where is the rest of your reenactment group? Do you have a club around here? Is there a paramedic there, or someone who—?”

“I know not what a reenactment group is, nor a paramedic for that matter. I am Lord Robert, Earl of Fosterly. And these are—”

“Look,” she gritted, raw nerves and fear for Josh’s safety rapidly eroding her patience as she regained her breath, “now is not the time to be stubborn, okay? I realize you guys are supposed to stay in character, and that sometimes you can be really anal about that kind of thing, but this is an emergency. How far are we from wherever it is you meet with everyone?”

“If you mean Fosterly,” he said in his remarkably authentic accent, “’tis almost a day’s ride from here.”

Yeah, right. So was Florida.

Her fists clenched. “Damn it, this is serious! Quit screwing around!”

The fourth man—blondish-brown hair and chiseled jaw—bristled. “’Tis the Earl of Fosterly you address, girl. ’Twould be wise to—”

“Michael,” the leader interrupted softly. “She is injured and likely out of her head with fever.”

“I am not out of my head,” she snapped. “I’m just trying to get some answers from you!”

“And we have given you them.”

Beth paused and drew in a deep breath to calm herself. “Okay. I don’t know what game you are playing, but let us put that on hold for a minute and just take a step back. I am standing here, covered in blood, asking for your help.” Plucking at her sticky jacket, she fanned it a few times. “This is not fake, okay? This isn’t studio blood. It isn’t Karo syrup mixed with food coloring, or whatever else it is you use in your fake tournaments and reenactment wars. It is human blood. It’s my blood. And Josh is still out there somewhere”—she motioned wildly to the forest around them—“either bleeding to death or killing himself trying to find me. And that is if the damned criminals we were hunting didn’t have any friends. I passed out right after the second one went down.”

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