Chapter 2 - An Unwelcome Stop
One second the plane had been crossing the Irish Sea from England to Ireland; the next everything had gone a little bit wrong. There had been no time to react or change anything, even for the woman who could see and feel the future sometimes. Phoebe had opened her mouth to Cameron, but the wave of purple energy wrapped around them and everything changed, the sky turned from daylight to night in a second and then back again.
As Phoebe watched the purple glow wrap around her hand, she realised it was only the second time they were flying Nessie – and it was probably going to shatter into pieces around them. She blinked slowly and turned to someone calling her name and time almost sped up and she was sat locked into her seat with everything okay again or at the very least the plane no longer falling from the sky.
“What… What happened?” She asked looking around at the plane having landed and was in one piece despite the experience that had just happened. “We landed?”
Mark stood looking at the plane which had fell through the rift. He ran his hand through his hair and let out the breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding.
“Well, not often you see one of these” he said out loud.
“Looks like one of those metal cans Gosgun tried putting the beer in last year, but longer, spikier and less likely to blow up on the horse” Ostig replied as he walked up to the still smouldering plane.
“Oi! Be careful! The engines are still winding down!” Mark yelled over as he watched Ostig saunter under the plane and started poking.
“Well, it’s definitely metal. It Aelvari?” he asked Gosgun. Gosgun stroked his beard and stared at the plane.
“Nah, their stuff’s white and not this. This is more like steel than their stuff”
“Aluminium. Possibly Titanium” Mark replied.
“Ey, look at Doctor Metal over there!” Ost shouted as he climbed up the landing gear. “Allooominniyum. Possibly Tietainyumm” he said as he disappeared up into the well where the landing gear retracted. A loud clanging could be heard from inside.
“HELLO! ANYBODY IN THERE?” he shouted.
Claire’s head was reeling from the entire ordeal, when suddenly she heard somebody outside the plane shouting for their attention. She looked at the pilot and Phoebe for a moment, wondering if this was one of those moments where it would be better for her to disappear, but it wasn’t like they were showing hostile intent. She held up a hand to indicate to the other occupants to lay low before making her way over to the door. She opened it with some force and peered down at the person on the ground. “Hello.”
“BLOODY OURF’S BEARD! OI! THERE’S PEOPLE IN HERE!”
Mark shook himself out of his daze as Gosgun ran as fast as his dwarven legs could carry him. He was also painfully aware that there was quite the crowd around him. A quick look around suggested most of the locals had gathered for a look at the newest arrival in The Knot. Some enterprising young dwarves and goblins had even wheeled out a pair of carts full of crowbars, hammers, pryers and other assorted tools and were attempting to sell them to the gathering crowd while throwing casual insults at each other about their parentage. Not that it was unusual, apparently cars and boats regularly made a trip through the rift and were often took apart because nobody could make an earthen engine work in here.
He pushed his way through the crowd to where Gos trying to climb up past Ostig into the plane. Crouching down as he went under the plane, he peered up.
“Hi. This is probably going to sound weird but before you ask where you are, where are you from?”
Claire knew she’d probably need Phoebe’s particular set of skills to make sure they’d stay safe while Cam continued to figure out how to get away from there again. She registered the many fantastical creatures that were coming out of the woodworks to look at their machine, remembering the difficult times she’d had getting through the Lord of the Rings. “I am Lady Claire Cavendish.” She hoped that her appeal to a noble line perhaps placate what appeared to be a smorgasbord of Middle-Earthlings. “I hail from the Scottish highlands.”
“Ah, that’s alright then. I’m Mark, I’m from Northampton. Probably not your Northampton but it’s a Northampton. Assuming Northampton exists on your Earth, in which case I’m from England if it doesn’t”
“Bloody hell Mark lad” Ostig cut in. “Apologies m’lady, what our esteemed friend there is trying to say is he’s Mark. He’s from Earth but it’s probably not your Earth.”
“… that’s literally what I said Ostig …” Mark mumbled. Ostig shot him a look.
“Yeah, but you’re talking to a Lady. Bloody uncultured human”
“Uncu… right. OK. Anyway, hi Claire. Do you want to open up so we can see if you need any help? Also, might stop this lot from thinking you’re a tin can they need to pick apart”
Claire took a moment to consider her options and looked around the place they had landed in, not immediately seeing any direct sunlight. “I’ll be coming down, no need to get startled.” She focused on an area near the two bickering men and faded for a second before, with a slight sound of a plop, disappearing completely from her vantage point in the plane’s exit. A blink of an eye, and a distinct sizzle, later she reappeared right next to the man and the dwarf. “There we are then.” The purple skinned mutant gave a slight bow towards the dwarf and then extended her hand towards the man that had introduced himself as Mark.
“Je-… Lady Claire I take it?” Mark said as the … well, he didn’t know what the bloody hell was happening. A loud parping noise came from beside him followed by an odour he never wanted to smell again.
“My god Ostig. What the hell?”
“S-sorry. It was a shock! We don’t get witches in The Knot that often!”
Mark held his breath for a moment and heard various members of the crowd wretching as Ost’s foul odour dispersed. Gos sniggered, trying his hardest not to laugh.
“Bit ripe there Ost. You shat yer’self?”
“Piss off Gos. Just farted”
“Aye, well lay off the sprouts will ya? Good news is you’ve cleared the crowd a bit” he finally collapsed in a heap laughing.
“Oh my. Wait ’til the burrow hears about this!”
Mark shook his head.
Phoebe had been listening to the exchange with an aching head even as she claimed down she was not sure what to make of any of it. “I very much did not for see this.” She whispered to Claire quietly taking in everything. “So if this is England but not our England… where exactly is this then?”
“I can answer that”, Mark said helpfully as another humanoid climbed out of the plane. “This isn’t England. Actually that’s not quite true, it’s a bit of England known as Lyonesse but it disappeared about a thousand years ago and landed here. You’ve fell through a tear in space and landed in The Knot.”
“We call it The Knot because the Aelvish smartarses make it look like it’s tied up like one” Ost added helpfully.
“.. yeah, that. Space & time got tied up, creating this pocket universe that exists out of your usual space-time. So you’re not in England, but equally you’re not on any Earth you’d recognise either.”
“Are you a scientist?” Phoebe wondered quietly as she looked around more. Definitely not England, but certainly interesting with the orgs… were they orgs and the other beings that seemed to be there. It seemed to truly be where everything existed in one place.
“Err, no. I’m a barman actually. I run a pub a few streets over called The Traveller’s Rest.”
”Story of my life.” Phoebe commented thinking of Matt. “Are people able to get back and out of this knot?” She asked the important question now that her head was no longer ringing.
Mark scratched his head since this was a bit of a tricky one to answer. The crowd had gone strangely quiet at that question being asked.
“Err, that’s probably a question you might want to ask the Aelvari. I can get someone to send a message to them from the pub. Meanwhile, we can get you some food, a drink and some medical attention if anyone’s a bit bruised from that landing.”
“What about this thing?” Ost asked, gesturing up at the plane. “Can’t leave it unguarded.”
“You just volunteered yourself Ost” Mark said, smiling at the dwarf who was trying very hard not to react “Get some of the lads to come along and stand watch with you.”
“Ohh, can I swipe some of your garden tables, chairs and a few mugs?” Ost asked.
“Yeah, Gos can top the cart up. Why? How many you inviting?”
Ost tugged on his beard. “Not many, maybe a dozen. Was more thinking that it’s a good opportunity to shift some beer. Nice outdoor bar at the new tourist attraction”
Mark raised an eyebrow. “Outdoor bar? Using my furniture and mugs? Fine. I’ll take 40% of the profit”
“40?!?! Might as well pack up and go home at that!” Ost yelled. “25%” he said, smiling at Mark.
“Split it. 32.5% and you cover any breakage or damages”
“… fine. Shake on it?”
Mark reached down for Ost’s hand and felt his fingers being crushed under the dwarves strength. “Deal”, he said grimacing. Rubbing his fingers, he turned to Claire and her companion, who stood bemused watching.
“If you’d like to follow me, we’ll get you sorted at the pub”
Phoebe nodded she could very much do with a beer and medical aid. “I cannot foresee anything bad.” The woman said cryptically to Claire as she pulled her hood up over her hair. Thank goodness they had the uniform situation sorted before this and it had offered some protection.
Looking at Phoebe, Claire gave a simple nod at that. The hood was a nice touch, she’d have to remember requesting one when they returned home. The half-mask to cover her face was draped around her neck and she felt it would be overdoing it to pull it up over her nose. “Do you have Whisky?”
Mark smiled, “Be a terrible barman if I didn’t. Now, if you’d like to follow me”