A weekend at the Renaissance Festival turns into a living memory for Claire. 52 Wks
|“Tanner, who’s this in our picture?” Tanner got up from the recliner where he was playing his video game and walked over to the couch where Claire was sitting, looking at photographs on her laptop.
He leaned over and looked at where she pointed. The picture was one of the last they had taken during their weekend at the Renaissance Festival. Tanner and his friend Ray had won tickets to the Festival, four in all. The group had consisted of Tanner, his younger sister Claire, his friend Ray, and another friend, Mack. Mack’s girlfriend Jodi had also wanted to attend, so they had to purchase one ticket.
The group had enjoyed the entire weekend, splitting the cost of lodging, food, and drink. The last day they had watched a reenactment of a Viking attack, and after, had dressed up and taken turns play fighting with the realistic swords. A couple of the Viking actors had stayed and were giving the audience a chance to try out costume and sword. This was the photo Claire was looking at, taken by one of the Viking actors, and one of the few pictures that had the entire group in it.
“That’s Mack and Jodi behind you Claire. You can tell Mack because he put that silly sweatshirt on over his Viking tunic. Remember how much of the Meade Jodi had drank, I think she was more passed out than sleeping beside him.”
Claire laughed at the memory. “Yeah, Mack had plenty of that stuff, too. I recognized them, and Ray, standing behind you. He’s looking right at the other person, but I don’t remember anyone else being over there, behind you.”
She was right, Ray was behind him, and so was the strange figure Ray was looking at. “I don’t know, Claire, probably just another person wanting to try out the swords and outfits.”
Claire looked up from the picture. “He wasn’t over there when we went out to fight, and he wasn’t there when we finished. I’ll have to ask Ray about him.”
Tanner went back to his video game and Claire got ready for bed. “If you’re going to stay up and play that game all night, please turn it down a little.”
Tanner reduced the volume then looked over at his sister, “How’s that?”
“It will do, thanks.” She put her computer on the desk and vanished into her bedroom. Within minutes she was sound asleep, but woke to the sounds of battle. She sat up, unsure at first, then realized that Tanner must have turned his game up. She could hear voices yelling, the clanging of swords, and the noise of battle.
She got out of bed and opened her bedroom door, to see the living room blanketed in darkness. She had to keep her door closed or the light of the television shown directly into her room, so she knew that it was turned off. She walked barefoot out into the living room, and checked, Tanner was gone, the lights were off, and so was the television. She stood and listened, but the sounds had stopped; all was quiet.
Returning to her room, however, she could hear the battle rage. Now, more awake, she realized the sounds were coming from her window. She padded over to the window, drew the curtain open and looked out. The back yard was fenced, a big patio ran alongside the pool, and solar powered lights lined the path to the garden, but that’s not what Claire seen. Instead of her familiar backyard, she was looking at a scene similar to the picture from the Festival. Only these were not her friends out there, and it wasn’t play fighting. This was a real battle, armor clad soldiers were trying to hold off a large band of Vikings, and losing ground.
Claire watched as the line of defense slowly thinned and retreated. The Vikings were winning and the soldiers were losing both men and ground as the battle continued on. Claire watched as a man appeared in the corner of the wall, beside the castle fort. It was the same figure as in the photograph, and he was looking right at her. She stepped back into her room, but it wasn’t the same room she had just woke up in. Stone replaced the sheetrock of her walls, and a huge canopy bed sat next to her dressing tables. Tapestries covered the walls and there was no carpet under her bare feet. She looked at herself, dressed in a flowing night gown, not her usual t-shirt, and wondered if it was all a dream. Then the sounds got loader outside her window and smoked drifted in. She ran back to the window and looked out. The soldiers were gone, the castle was burning, and the Vikings were looting the village.
Claire heard pounding at her door, and then yelling and screaming. The heavy wood portal was locked from within, and on the other side someone was calling for her to come quick and flee while she could. A heavy bolt locked the massive door, and it was hard for Claire to draw it back, but the urgency from the other side pushed her to not give up. With both hands she pulled at the bolt and then felt it give as the door swung back knocking her to her butt. Before she could get up, hands grabbed her and pulled her to her feet.
“Quick, you must come quickly.” She didn’t recognize the soldier pulling her to her feet, and there were four more dressed as he was. Then, she remembered the royal crest on their armor, this was the palace guard. They led her down a dark stone hallway, lit only by the smoking torches they carried. Soon they came to stone steps and half pulled, half carried her down to another heavy door. Even as they pulled the massive door open and stepped through, Viking warriors attacked. One of the guards pulled her along the castle wall as the other’s fought to hold the horde back. Soon they were below her bedroom window, the courtyard littered with the dead and dying from the battle she had watched minutes earlier.
Was it a dream, or was she remembering something that had happened long ago. Claire wasn’t sure about anything anymore. The royal guard pulled her along the castle to the outer wall. “We can scale the wall there, but we will have to swim the mote to get you to safety, Princess.” He was pointing to a spot along the wall that had steps going up to a defense platform. They ran together across the courtyard, but were confronted by a handful of Vikings just before they reached the stairs.
Behind the five Viking warriors was another figure, the man from the photograph. He too was a Viking, but dressed different from the others. The guard turned with Claire, but the other Vikings were now behind them, and there was no place to go.
The guard threw Claire to the ground and drew his sword, but before he could even swing, the Vikings had cut him down. Claire was horrified of what was going to happen to her now, the tales of the Viking raids filled her mind with their brutality. She squeezed her eyes shut and waited.
After several minutes, she opened them and seen the Vikings had formed a circle about her, and all were kneeling with their heads bowed. Then the other man stepped through the ring and stood in front of her, reached out his hand, and called her name softly. “Claire.”
She wasn’t sure of anything, but he stood with his hand offered to her, and waited. She didn’t feel threatened, and the man, he looked so familiar. Yes, it was the same person she had seen in the photograph, and she could sense he meant her no harm. She reached up and took his hand.
As he gently pulled her to her feet, the other warriors stood and formed a protective ring around them. He spoke softly and stern, “Return to the boats before they counter-attack.” As one the group moved over the stairs, and down the rampart on the other side. Planks attached to floating logs made a make-shift bridge over the moat and the small group moved quickly to the ground beyond. Running now, they covered the stone covered sand to the shore and the waiting longboats of the Vikings.
Claire finally stopped running and pulled her hand free. “Who are you?”
“There’s no time now, My Love, they are coming.” The stranger answered. “Come with me and when we are free of the coast I will tell you all you desire.”
“What is going on, who are you and why does this all seem so familiar. Is this a dream, why do I seem to know you?” Claire was filled with questions.
“There is no time, now. We must go!”
“No, not until you tell me who you are and what is going on.”
“Lady, they have reinforcements, and a wizard. If we do not go now, we will not escape. You knew me once, before they captured you and your family. I came to rescue you from them, but the wizard cast a spell and you vanished, but what happened to you also affected me. Now, we are here, again, and have the chance to escape, to go back, but we must before the wizard cast that spell.”
The man reached for her, but she pulled away, “Who are you?”
“I am Rurik Ubbarson. I am your husband. Please, I will tell you all that has happened, but we must go now.”
It was too late, even as he spoke, soldiers on horses swarmed the beach. The small group of Vikings retreated further into the water, waiting for the assault to finish them off. The horsemen did not charge, but formed a line at the water’s edge. A figure stepped through in flowing robes, sparks of lightning flowed about his outstretched hands and he was chanting. Blue waves of flickering light washed over the group of Vikings and Claire could see her room, Tanner, and then the castle burning. One minute there was her backyard, the next the castle walls. It was like she drifted between two worlds.
Around her, the Vikings stood in a trance staring at the mage as he cast his spell. Then Claire remembered the wedding, her husband, and their voyage to start a new life. There were soldiers and fighting, the Vikings were cut down and their ships burned. All but a few destroyed, Claire had been captured and watched as the last two longboats sailed away, most of her clan dead or dying on the sand. Only Rurik had survived, wounded, and called now across the waves, “I’ll return for you my love, I will return.”
Claire didn’t understand, but she knew Rurik, and she knew she had been captured by the people now ready to cut them all down. She reached to the Viking beside her, took his bow, and notched an arrow. The blue waves were flashing faster and faster, the lightning growing stronger, and Claire seen images from her room, the longboats, even her wedding. It was like jumping from one time to another, to another. She drew back the arrow, aimed, released.
The arrow flew true and hit the mark. With an explosion of lightning all around them that cut the line of horseman down, Claire seen flashes of different times and places. She felt hands upon her, lifting her out of the cold water, then it was dark and peaceful. When Claire opened her eyes she was back in her room, in her house, as it always was. She snuggled deeper into her lover’s arms, then jumped.
“What’s the matter, Claire.” Rurik asked. She was in her own bed, in her own home and Rurik was there with her. She was stripped down to nothing, her flowing nightgown lay in a wet heap on the floor beside the strange garments of her lover.
“The wizard, remember? You shot an arrow into him while he cast his spell, and then you fell into the water. I went under to save you, and when we came up, we were here. We didn’t escape his spell, but at least this time, I travelled to here with you.”
“I don’t…” Claire looked at the framed photograph on her night table, then she started to remember. “Yes, we went to the Renaissance Festival. I remember, it was Tanner and Ray who won the tickets. Here we all are, Tanner and I are sword fighting, Mack and Jodi are drunk, Ray is standing by the wall waiting for his turn to try the swords, and there you are, my sweet Rurik, standing all by yourself by the wall. What were you doing there, anyway?”
“Just keeping a watchful eye out for invaders, Claire, you know.”