A quiet forest, nothing around except the trees standing in complete silence. Emireth opened his eyes slowly and shook his head, only to get the shock of a major headache. He groaned and sat himself up against the nearest oak and tried to remember exactly what had happened. When he touched the tree, he had the shocking image of it burning down in his head, making him jolt away from it.
"You," came a woman's stern voice from behind him. "Ye best turn n' set yourself down. I don't know who you are, or why ye've brought me here, but ye'd best just set yourself and set real still n' slow." Anna stepped forward from the shadow of the trees, her rifle held steadily trained on the back of Emireth's head. Although her hands didn't shake and her aim didn't waver, her gaze flitted back and forth among the trees, trying to find something familiar in them, but found nothing. Not only were they unfamiliar, but she couldn't recall ever even seeing trees like these in her life, not to mention having never seen a man that looked and dressed as strangely as this one did. She had awoken disheveled and in pain, alone, and after just a few minutes had noticed this other man nearby. It seemed illogical that her apparent captor would be unconscious as well, but he was simply too strange to ignore and label harmless. Now that he too was awake, instinct took hold of Anna's logic and she peered at Emireth with icily furious and unmistakably confused eyes.
Emireth held up his hands so she could see them. "Easy ma'am. I don't know what you are talking about... I'm new here myself...." he said, his voice soft and calm. The gun to the back of his head wasn't very fun to have, but he remained calm.
It took a moment to shake away the shock at his strange accent. "Aye? And why should I believe ya?" Anna answered, eyes searching him up and down for weapons. He was strong--she could see the muscles faintly outlined beneath his clothes--which didn't bode well for her, and she kept the rifle trained on him carefully. Everything about this man was strange and confusing, but somehow not especially threatening. Slowly she lowered the gun to his chest, getting a better look at his face. Her brows knitted in confusion at his eyes and she made a small sound like a grunt in the back of her throat. "What are ye? I don't know what you are, a demon or...some strange thing. Best start talkin', before me finger slips n' pulls the trigger."
Emireth couldn't help but chuckle at the demon part. "Demons? They don't exist, what are you talking about?" he laughed. "You must not be from around here, yet, neither am I..." he smiled. It was a little difficult for him to understand her accent, but he could pretty much trace certain words out.
Anna growled as he laughed, her fingers briefly twitching on the trigger, aching to pull it, but she managed to calm herself. He's not a threat,
she reasoned with herself. He's just bloody stupid n' queerer than a lopside chestnut.
Hesitantly she lowered the rifle completely, twisting it in her hand to rest the barrel against her right shoulder. After a long moment's thought, she said, "So you don't know who I am, or where this is?" She sighed, exasperatedly stretching her neck until it popped. "Well that's a bloody romp, in'nit? Then where are ye from?"
Emireth smiled. "I'm from the south side of New York City, New York. And you ma'am?" he asked politely.
Anna just stared at him, then suddenly let out a barking laugh, incredulous. "You're a bloody wanker. S'not possible. If you're from New York, I'm a bloody princessa o' Francie. Ha!" She grinned despite herself, not believing a single word. "You may be an immigrant, but there's no chance in fiery hell that you're from Yorkie. Best start tellin' the facts, lad."
Emireth blinked. "Eh? Well... I was originally from China... but when my mother died, I moved with my father to New York... I was young. I'm an owner of a dojo, my father's dojo." he explained. "So thats it. You're a princess...?"
This boy's off his seat,
Anna thought and started laughing again. Pressing her cloth-concealed left hand to her mouth, she finally managed to stifle it. "Can't say I know a place called Shy-naw, or what a doe-ja is, but you seem rather harmless enough." She smirked at him, wondering at what a lack of luck she had in running into someone so strange in the middle of a strange place. Realizing he was having a hard time understanding her, she slowed her speech slightly, forming a monotone British dialect to somewhat match his flat American. "I'm from Belfast, in Ireland if you don't know. I was farming me crops when I fell. I woke up here, and figured you must've attacked me." She chuckled dryly, lapsing into her normal tone again. "So, no, ah'm not a preen-cest," she answered, mocking his accent.
"Oh..." Emireth laughed nervously and scratched the back of his head. "Sorry about that. I know where Ireland is... but not Belfast..."
Anna just smirked at his nervousness. Slinging the rifle into a makeshift holster on her back, she crouched before him and extended a hand. "Name's Anna. Might as well be friendlike while we're here, eh? Till we figure what shonky business this is."
Emireth took her hand, and being the gentleman he was, kissed the back of her hand. "Its a pleasure to meet you. My name is Emireth.. and what's a shonky...?"
Anna's brows twitched and she pulled her hand away slightly at the contact, unappreciative. It had been a long time, but the motion made her remember what men with full stomachs and time to kill usually had in mind with even as simple a thing as that. She tried to erase it from her mind, reminding herself that he wasn't from where she was from; maybe things were kinder there. "Emireth, eh?" she repeated, slurring the vowels slightly from how he had said it, but shrugged. "You're a queer one, mate. Not sure what to be thinkin' o' you. And shonky in't a noun. Means...well, y'know, scand'lous. Hidin' in shadows sorta thing." She thought of something suddenly, looking up at the trees nearby. "D'you recognize this place? Is this...ah...this where ya come from?" she asked, not wanting to promote what she still took as a lie.
Emireth shook his head. "Unfortunately no...New York is nothing like this... I've never seen forests this thick..." he said. He blinked. "Before I jump to conclusions, where you come from, queer means weird, right...??" he asked. He didn't want to be rude and just assume she was calling him gay.
"Course it does," Anna answered with a confused little chuckle. "What else would it mean? Anyway...if you don' know this place, n' neither do I, then where the bloody hell are we, eh?" She stood, turning left and right in hopes of finding a hint of light through the trees, but could see only a deep green and the faint filtering sunlight from above. She sighed, placing her rifle against the tree. "Do ye have anythin' t'eat, by a chance? Y'seem well off enough, n' I haven't eaten in...Lord I don't recall."
Emireth dug into his pocket and pulled out an energy bar. "Sorry... this is all I have... didn't get a chance to go get dinner..." he laughed lightly, holding out the energy bar to her. He shot a warm smile to her, to let her know it was okay.
Anna made a strange face only comparable to distaste and took it slowly, confused at the light but hard feeling of it in her palm and the unfamiliar wrapping. "This a joke?" she asked with a dry laugh, sniffing at it, deepening the look. "Wood wrapped in paper's what this is." She bit at the white plastic and tore at it with her teeth, unsure what else to do with it, and was somewhat surprised when it peeled off to reveal the block of condensed grain. She laughed again, but could faintly recognize the scent of it and bit off a chunk with some difficultly. "Ahnk...this is bloody awful, mate," she mentioned, but swallowed the hard mouthful and took another. "But 'spose it works well enough. Might've very well saved me life, boyo."
Emireth chuckled. "Yeah... They're not the best things in the world, but they give you plenty of energy." he smiled. He put his hands in his pockets and was actually startled when his right hand hit something hard and cold. He grabbed it and pulled out the stone he had gotten in the dojo. "What the hell is this thing doing in my pocket?! I had it in that box!" he commented, looking at it again. The different colors of it kind of shimmered from the sunlight.
Anna paused with the bar halfway to her mouth, staring at the enormous stone. "Either that's a rather beautified hunk o' coal, or a helluva gem, mate," she commented with a disbelieving smirk. "Never seen a thing like that. Remember seein' a diamond once, but no'ing like that."
"Its a gem called Opal... it was sent to me in a box... I thought it was some kind of joke when I saw it was from my father..." Emireth said. "Its friggen heavy..."
Anna leaned over it, watching it glint pink and green in the dim light, then shrugged and started eating again. "Then sell it. Thing like that'll get a heftin' sum o' gold, I'm sure...no matter where this is," she added in afterthought through a full mouth. "Speakin' o' which, mayhaps we should...ah...start headed someway 'til reach a town. Someplace we can ask how we got here, eh? 'Cause if'n it wasn't you or I that got us here n' you're tellin' me true--which I must be honest I don't trust in the least--then someone else must've." She seemed to think on this conclusion a moment then nodded, as if agreeing with herself. "So...Em'reth,"--she stood, dropping the now empty wrapper on the ground--"which way shall we take, eh?"
Emireth, not being much of a litter bug, picked up the wrapper and just put it in his pocket along with the stone. "Uh... well, maybe we can look for a river of some kind, then travel along it until we find a town." Emireth suggested, shrugging. He was never really a traveler of any kind, being almost always in a city. "I'm not much of a forest person... the most woodsy place I've been in has been Central Park..." he laughed.
Anna shrugged, still looking this way and that as if sensing the correct direction to go in. Finally she nodded to her left. "That way's as good as any, methinks," she said simply and turned back to Emireth. "Either way we're in for a mighty long walk. You're not...ah...hurt o' whatnot, are ye?" she asked suddenly, remembering that he might have been captured somehow and brought here as well. She herself had woken up with a powerful headache and could feel bruises on her shoulders and knees.
Emireth shook his head. "Nope! Perfectly okay, you?" he asked, suddenly concerned.
"Hm," Anna mumbled, absently stroking her right thumb along her chin where three thin but jagged pink scars trailed up to her ear. Thinking on the pain made her head start to ache again. "Aye, I'll be alright," she decided and smiled humorlessly. "Fine o' you t'ask. Then let's go," and without looking back began at him began heading into the woods, swinging her left arm loosely at her side and holding comfortably onto the leather strap over her shoulder with her right.
Emireth followed her, humming softly.
They walked for a long while, Anna not taking any liberties with making conversation with the strange man that trailed behind her singing some strange tune. Finally, she thought she could just barely make out the sound of running water. "Aha," she muttered with a relieved and weary smile. She glanced over her shoulder and tipped her head to the left. "Believe that's where we'd want t'head." She paused to look up into the forest canopy; it had been growing steadily darker since they had awoken, and now the sun had moved down across the sky, casting everything in an even shadow. "We'll settle there for the night, methinks. 'Less you'd prefer to wander about in the dark, in which case be me guest. I won't join you," she said in her normal but subconsciously biting way as she headed for the stream.
Emireth nodded and smiled. "That'll be fine with me... I suggest we take shelter in the trees... we don't know what lurks in this forest..."
Anna tossed her head back and let out a bark of laugher. "Naw-o, no need, me boyo. What d'ye think these are for, eh?" she said, tapping her shoulder where the scythe in its sheath hooked to the leather strap. "No bloody beastie'll disturb yourn beauty sleep. Ah." She could see the stream moving just beyond a fringe of trees and slightly picked up her pace to get to it. She hadn't had much to drink in hours, not since before she had wound up here in this forest, and the thought of water brought back the raging parched feeling on her tongue. The stream was shallow, but surprisingly clear and fast moving--good signs of good water. She knelt and leaned over the side, immediately dipping her right hand into the flow and putting it to her mouth. Once she repeated the movement a few times and brushed the cool liquid against her forehead, she pulled forth a small leather pouch, pulled off the large cork, and dipped the bag into the water, filling it. "Best rest n'drink your fill. Odds o' me sharin' aren't the best," she warned, but smirked, calling her own bluff; even she couldn't be quite that cruel.
Emireth walked over to the water and cupped some in his hands and drank his fill. He looked up at Anna and smiled. "I wouldn't expect you to..." he chuckled. He shrugged his shirt off his shoulders and hung it off a nearby tree, then walked over to the water, and jumped in.
Anna pulled a face at his rather immature actions, watching him as she capped the pouch and sat back on the bank. "N' just how old are ye, boyo?" she asked with a twinge of both annoyance and amusement. She wasn't used to seeing such spontaneous happiness come out of situations like this. "You're careless as a pod o' drunkies on Saint Patty's, you are."
Emireth turned to her and chuckled. "Y'know, where I come from, its considered rude to ask someone's age... but if you must know I'm 23..." he took note of her reaction and smiled. "Life is too short to be serious all the time ma'am... live a little... you don't know how long its gonna last..."
Anna seemed to think on this a moment, then stood with a mischievous smirk. "Wise words for a lad. Then in that case..." She pulled the leather straps holding her scythe and rifle up over her head and placed them on the bank, followed by her worn leather boots. Reaching both hands behind her, she untied the knot of her ragged dress and threw it up over her head as well, throwing it to the side by the weapons carelessly. She stood with the same mischievous grin, wearing nothing but dull-white cotton undergarments, before diving into the river. "That a bit better?" she asked when she came up again, smoothing her deep red hair back out of her face.
Emireth had a childish grin upon his face and grinned. "Much!" he laughed and splashed her. He dove under the rushing water when he felt something scrape against his foot. When he came back up, he held his hand out. "Shh... I'm gonna try and catch us some fish..."
Anna shrugged with a smirk. Luck go wi' ye there, boyo, she thought with amusement, falling back a few feet. She dipped her head beneath the water again, rubbing vigorously at her hair, which hadn't been washed in weeks or months (she couldn't remember which). "Y'know," she started, making small talk, "don't think I've ever seen under-gars the likes o' those. Hardly wearin' a thing. 'Less its just a Yorkie thing. Turn o' the century's provin' mighty strange, with their top-hats n' canes, billowin' shite..." she rambled, looking over at Emireth's discarded shirt. "But ye seem to be a tad different than the rest, eh? Hardly a scrap o' clothin'. Thought I was bad off. 'Merica must be bloody awful."
Emireth lost his concentration because he started laughing. "C-canes and top hats??! What time are you thinking of?? Everyone dresses in clothes like that... well, not the shirt, but the pants definitely. Hell, girls wear less than that most of the time..." he said, laughing.
Anna peered at him a moment and laughed suddenly. "What ye on about? I know you'rn from New York, but I doubt 's much different. Women dress in gaudy billowy trails and men in their black suits n' hats, even in summer. Been that way a while...don' know me hist'ry o' such things well, mind ye, but I believe 's been that way since...oh, the early 1700's, eh? Wprse before that, too." She laughed again, trying to picture rich prudish British women wandering the streets of Belfast in the nude. "'Course, Irishfolks as meself 'aven't much t'work with. Just scraps...'s the rich ones that wear those hideous styles."
Emireth froze when he heard the time. "S-se-seve..." He stuttered, then looked up, as if thinking about something reeeally hard. He turned to her. "Anna... what time are you from...?"
Anna eyed him suspiciously, her smile fading. "What time?" she repeated. "You mean, what year? Well...let's see, I was born 1818, know that much, 'course. So that'd make it someplace about 1850 by now. Don' know an exact date for ye..." She trailed off in thought, looking at Emireth with a strangely hard expression. "Why're ye askin'?"
"Oh my God..." Emireth muttered. "No wonder you think I am dress so oddly! I'm from the 21st century, woman!! Y'know, the year 2010?!" He put a hand on his forehead, and stepped on a fish.
"2010?" Anna repeated again and scowled. "Bloody wanker--look, where've ye been? I know ye say y'don' know where Belfast is, n' that you're from Yorkie, but ye must know o' the Kingdom, eh? There's a war going on, don't y'know!" she shouted suddenly, obviously annoyed at him now. "This i'n't a time t'be pretending your silly games. Leave it, mate." She pushed back from him, treading water where the stream went deeper.
"Wait, kingdom? Like, United Kingdom? Britain? And if you're talking about the war in Iraq, then I completely understand because our troops were just pulled out..." Emireth said, reaching down and picking up the squished fish, then stumbled after her. "And I am not pretending ma'am! I swear I am being 100% serious!"
Anna growled something in a language far from English and pushed towards him again. She grit her teeth as she pulled up her previously hidden left hand, holding up the dark and pink scarred flesh of what remained of her fingers. "I'm talking about the war that did this, boyo. That did this not two months past. Ye bloody blind? Deaf, maybe? The Brits've been at us like dogs for years, n' I know ye 'Merican folks aren't dealin' much better with your slave labor n' such. Bloody impudent gobshite..."
"Woah woah woah Anna! Slavery? Thats been done and over with for years.. sure, there is still some discrimination, but nothing too too serious! And another thing, miss. There is no war going on in Britain. At least, not in MY time." he growled back. Now he, as well, was getting frustrated.
Anna's eyes lit like fire, fierce and bright, and she slammed her fist back into the water. "N' how do ye suppose I got here, then? Some Merlin-man just magic me out o' Heaven's blue sky, eh? N' what about you? One o' us is gone backwards, n' it sure's hell i'n't myself. Messing me mind..." she growled again, turning from him to head for the shore where her clothes and weapons lay. "Because if I'm wrong," she continued without stopping to turn to him, "who's t'say you aren't, s'well, eh? Could be both o' us've gone off our rockers."
"I think we're both insane then. Because I KNOW I'm not in New York anymore... and I know that you aren't where you were before..." Emireth sighed, gaining control over his temper.
Anna pulled herself up to the bank and without hesitating retrieved her rifle and aimed squarely for Emireth's head. "Now you listen," she said lowly. "I didn' trust ye before, n' I don' trust ye now. I know somethin's gone awry here, n' that someone's brought me here, n' considering I don' remember a bloody thing, I'm thinking you're it, boyo." She paused, once more looking him over. Her suspicions seemed logical to her, but at the same she doubted this young man could have taken her this far from home on his own. "What's the last thing ye remember before endin' up here, eh?"
Emireth sighed. "If you lower your gun, and put the thing away, then I'll tell you." he said calmly, crossing his arms over his bare chest.
Anna's brows knitted above piercing eyes as she kept them trained on him. With an annoyed sigh she forced herself to lower the barrel of the rifle until it was pointing at the ground. After a long moment of deliberation, she finally laid it down again and sat down on the bank, resting her chin on one fist. "Well, get on with it," she prodded impatiently. "Where were ya? If'n ye be so innocent as all that."
Emireth looked up thoughtfully and started to walk back and forth through the water. "... I was at the dojo, and class had just ended. I was putting away all of the equipment when some guy in a suit came to the door. I thought it was another lawyer, but not. Thank god..." Emireth muttered the last part under his breath. "He gave me a box, which had the stone in it, the one I showed you. I put it on my desk, and I sat down at it... I think, I actually fell asleep reading the newspaper... June 10th, 2010 was the date in the top right corner. The headline was that a majorly famous person got mugged and murdered... nothing really new in New York..." he sighed.
"June 10th..." Anna repeated, thinking as she ran a hand through her thick wet hair. "That sounds jus' 'bout right on my end. Twas mid-summer in Cavan, where I was staying for the night. I'd heard the Brits were headed west, lookin' for stragglers like meself...meself in particular, I should think," she muttered through pursed lips. "I'd almost made it t'town when I stopped for the night. Slept in the wood alone. Didn't think I'd met or seen a body the whole way...but perchance I was wrong there." She looked over at Emireth, then heaved another sigh. "No chance in Hell it were you, boyo. If we'd've scuffled, I'd've won. Had t've been someone much more...suas, what in hell am I thinking of?" She sworn bitterly, standing abruptly to pace along the bank, looking between the wood and Emireth. "Can't be real. Must be a dream. Said I hadn't eaten in days, traipsing along the countryside ...made me delirious, s'what it is. So this isn't real...s'just me mind playing tricks. N' that's why you're such a funny fickle bastid--you're not real, either." She chuckled, apparently fairly content with this conclusion. "Because either I'm dead n' didn't know it, or..." She stopped in her ranting, staring at Emireth. "You said some bloak gave you a stone. That raunchy thing you showed me. What did 'e look like?"
Emireth shrugged. "Didn't really get a good look at his face. He was tall like me, his hair was all slicked back and nasty lookin... just looked a hell of a lot like a lawyer. And pinch yourself. If it hurts, its not a dream... I know I'm not dreaming... the fish I stepped on bit my fucking foot..." he grumbled, still holding the dead fish in hand.
Anna stood on the bank, concentrating her gaze on nothing in particular, thinking hard. She pulled her mutilated left hand before her, tracing the scarred line where three of her fingers used to be, following it up to her elbow where it curved and tapered off. "No...it isn't a dream," she said slowly. "In dreams I wouldn't be this way. I can feel my hands..." She sighed again, in defeat this time. "Bloody hell...I've heard of magicking before, but this...this doesn't make sense. There must be a reason for us t'meet, n' t'meet here. Did you notice anything odd when you awoke? Anything not like it should be?" she prodded again, searching her own mind as she did.
Emireth walked up onto the bank and sat down, looking at his foot. "Ow... crap..." he sighed. He looked up. "I woke up in a forest... that's plenty odd enough."
Anna watched him sit and after a moment joined him, pulling out a roll of cloth from her still-discarded scrap of a dress. "I think I believe ya, mate," she admitted at last, unrolling the bandage in one hand and holding it out to him. "Better t'go with intuition on this one, methinks. Logic'll get me nowhere this time. I say we stay 'ere tonight, see what comes o' the morrow, eh?" She offered a smile, this time strangely sympathetic, and nodded at the fish. "S' good meat. We can build us a fire, bake us a feast, eh? Get t'know each other a bit, if ya like. We'll figure things out yet."
Emireth smiled and took the bandage and started wrapping up his foot. "I can catch even more fish... but this time without using my foot as the bait." he laughed nervously.
"Aye," Anna laughed, standing once more, and finally retrieved her clothes, stepping back into the rags somewhat unwillingly. "Then you go catch us suppa, and I'll find us a scrap o' flint n' tinder." She pciked up the rifle and scythe, sheathing them in their leather straps before heading off down the river, scouring the ground for lose branches until her trail took her out of Emireth's sight.
Emireth grinned and stood up, cracking his knuckles loudly, then walked back out into the water and started catching some fish. When he caught one, he would toss it far up on the shore, watch it flop around, then go catch another one. The fish seemed to be fascinated with nipping at Emireth's jeans.
Several minutes passed until the sky began to turn dark shades of blue and purple except for a sliver of gold on the horizon that ran through the trees and cast long shadows past everything it touched. Anna had been gone for nearly half an hour when the unmistakable sound of gunfire and a distant cry echoed through the wood and forced the nearby birds to take flight. Then everything was still and quiet again.
Emireth, who had then been sitting on the bank counting up the now dead fish, jumped up. He started looking at the trees, waiting for something to come out of them.
Rustling and the snapping of branches could be heard a moment later, indicating footsteps, and two figures emerged in the dark. Anna approached, holding her scythe close along the bare belly of a strange near-nude dark-skinned man, who walked slow but steady, confused but without fear. "Caught this scraggly little bugger followin' me. Pierced me neck somethin' fierce. Well, we'll 'ave none o' that, eh, little bastid?" she said, pushing the man to the ground. He landed on his knees cleanly despite his hands being tied behind him, staring at the ground stolidly. Anna rubbed at her neck and scoffed. "So who are ye, eh? Who--are--you?" she annunciated, pressing down on his already bent head threateningly. "N' where is this place? Then mayhaps I'll let ye go."
The man's hands balled into fists behind his back, and he glared at Anna. She could see a killer in that gaze and stared back coolly, making no other motion. He shouted something unintelligible, twisting his body. Anna sighed, rubbing at her neck again as she came towards Emireth. "You understand a word he said?" she asked quietly aside to him, keeping her captive close with her blade ready, and he seemed to know better than to move.
Emireth shook his head. "Nope. I didn't catch it ma'am." he said. He got up and walked over to the man, then knelt down and smiled. "Who may you be?" he asked.
The man growled at him like a caged tiger, straining his wrists against the tight rope wound around them, cutting into his skin. As Emireth neared him, he snapped his teeth, as if daring him to come any closer.
Anna grabbed a fistful of his hair, which promptly silenced him although his teeth remained bared. "Now I'll ask ye once more, gent," she said slowly in his ear, partially to keep him under control, but partially to keep herself under control. "Where are we? Simple answer. Sweet as sugarcane. Just give me a name." Her blade crept around his body again, stopping just within his view a few inches from his chest, a warning.
The man held his breath, confused, but Anna could tell by the way his head jerked and his hands twitched that he was at least attempting to process what she had asked. So he doesn't speak the language, Anna thought grimly. Figured as much Finally, he looked up at Emireth. "Ban. Em-em. No'hol," he said disjointedly, tilting his head down repeatedly with each word.
"Down...under? Oi," Anna responded, lowering the scythe to circle him, pointing a finger down. "Down where? Under what?"
"Ank," he growled, frustrated, apparently already done being cooperative. Anna let out an annoyed huff, about to raise the blade again. "Da--da!" The man shook his head. "Ah...s-...sol...ah, mund. No!" he exclaimed as if changing his mind suddenly, and Anna blinked; she knew that one. "Sura'reca. Sura'reca."
"Sura..." Her brow furrowed. She looked to Emireth, questioning, with a shrug. The words seemed vaguely familiar, as if she had heard them at some point a long time ago, but she couldn't quite remember their meaning.
Emireth shrugged. "I have absolutely no idea what he's saying... but, one question... is that rope really necessary? I'm sure if he tries something, we can both handle it," he said.
Anna pulled a face at him, eyes hardening. "'Course it's necessary. Bloody daft? Look--" she said, tilting her head to the side to reveal a smudge of dark blood around a tin pinprick of a wound, but a thin trickle of blood continued to pour from it, almost reaching her collarbone now. "Wha'ever he put in those bloody needles, 's workin' fast. Loook at 'im--he's a native, for certain 'e is, but he's a killer. He'd win if we tried."
"Oye!" the man hissed suddenly, struggling against the bounds again, this time leaning up onto his knees, as if about to take off at a run.
"Dubh fer tammag," Anna growled in her own tongue, shoving him to the ground to land on his hands, ignoring his yelp as she pinned him with the scythe pressing to his neck. Her voice was low and deep. "Answer the fuckin' question or this blade'll be tearin' your innards t'ribbons. Now speak bloody english. Where...are...we?" The man stare up at her, his eyes wild and angry, but afraid. He didn't answer. Anna's face contorted as she pressed harder, drawing a thin line of blood. "WHERE ARE WE?" she shouted and began to draw it across his skin.
"Su--sura america! Amer-EE-ca!!" the man shouted back desperately, twisting under her to no avail.
Anna stopped, staring at him in sudden understanding. "America," she repeated in disbelief. "Sura...South America." She looked over her shoulder at Emireth. "'Parently we're in bloody South America. Don't look like much...you believe 'im?" she asked, knowing her maps (and logic) well enough to know Emireth would be able to determine that better than herself.
Emireth shrugged again. "I wouldn't know... I've never been to South America... this is odd... but I thought it was rainforest... not a forest like this..."
Anna thought about this a moment. "Well...far as I recall--mind you, 's been years--South America's a rather large track o' land. Likely be a bit different here n' there. And..." She paused, thinking of something. "If'n we're from two different time, as ye say, mayhaps he is too. Maybe a bit diff'rent than what you remember." She focused on the man again, who had stilled even as he panted in fear, trembling subtly. The blade retracted enough for relative comfort, poised an inch away from the flesh now. "One more," she started. "Need a year. Time. Ah..." Latin...Latin...don't know any bloody Latin, she thought, shaking her head. "Ah...t-...tempo?" she tried, knowing that wasn't quiet right. "Tempus..."
The man's eyes lit up. "Ah-ya!" he said. He moved his arms from under her, looking up at her steadily, and Anna let him move. He moved one hand in a wave-motion, up and down like a snake, and hissed out a strange sound. Then he pointed at her face--not at her, but at the skin.
"Serpents...?" she guessed, confused. "No...Water. Ships? Ships with people like this?" she asked gesturing to her pale arms. The man nodded emphatically, evidently recognizing the word. Anna thought on this, trying to remember what brief world history she could come up with. "The Brits've been buildin' empires for years...where I come from. But...somehow this seems older. Feels older than that. Maybe..." Then it dawned on her. "Spaniards. Spanish conquest. Pirates used t'come up north for our supplies. That was...bloody hell. That was 16th cent'ry, maybe further than that." She scoffed, unbelieving of the situation. "No blooody wonder there's naught here but trees n' natives. No one's been here yet but them. Probably thought I was one." She peered down at the man and stood up, pulling him up onto his legs again. Carefully, she cut the ropes that bound him. "Get off, ye," she said, pushing him forward.
Emireth fell back a bit, actually thinking of what she said. "Shit... pirates... this is, actually, kind of cool... I guess... Damn..." he muttered under his breath. "Pirates..."
The man looked from Anna to Emireth, eying their weapons warily, and didn't move for a moment, as if contemplating taking them on for a moment. Anna stared at him evenly, still holding the scythe. He growled thinly and took off at a run back into the woods, disappearing beyond the foliage in moments.
Anna sighed, sitting back down heavily in a tired heap. "Un-bloody-believable," she muttered, running her hand through her hair with her eyes closed. "Spanish pirates and natives...un..." She swayed slightly in place, absently rubbing the thumb of her left hand over the pinprick stab that continued to bleed, smearing the blood there. She grimaced, looking at the dark red liquid. "Bloody dubh...must've gotten me well. Wanka's o' me t'go running about without paying attention...tch." She scoffed, swaying further. She glanced up at Emireth. "Goin' t'be honest, mate. I don't feel so well."
Emireth stood up. "You should lay down." he smiled. "You'll be safe, I promise." he chuckled.
Anna scoffed again, waving a hand in denial. "Ach, no. I'm fine..." She breathed slowly, looking at her hands, still covered in dirt and a thin layer of blood. "Hmph," she muttered, swaying backwards and forwards briefly. Then, eyelids fluttering, she promptly passed out.
Emireth caught her before she hit the ground and sighed. "Told you." he muttered, laying her down gently on the ground. He sighed and looked at all of the fish, then got up. He started looking for wood, but kept close to Anna, not wandering off too far. Once he found enough, he started setting up a fire.
Anna groaned, face contorting as she regained consciousness. The hard ground beneath her was cold and could tell it was night, but also felt a rising warmth on one side. Slowly she opened her eyes, staring blearily up at the rising trees and disappeared in blackness. It was already night, and she must have been out for at least an hour, probably more. A fire burned to her left, a orange flickering blur. She grunted something like a weary swear, trying to sit herself up despite her weak limbs, and her neck pulled and ached as she moved. "Oi...Em'reth," she mumbled groggily, twisting her head a bit to try to find him to little avail.
Emireth was cooking another fish. He had already cooked up just about three. A pile of scales lay next to him, seeing that he at least skinned the fish before cooking them. He looked over. "How are you feeling?" he asked, smiling.
Anna groaned again. "Like a bloody trolley cracked me skull," she muttered, placing a hand over her eyes. She tried again to sit up, with some success this time although she had to hold herself up with one hand balanced on the ground. She sniffed the air. "Hm," she hummed admiringly, "didn't take you for the wifey type." She smirked playfully, rubbing at her neck with a grimace as she sat up completely. A lump was beginning to form over the pinprick wound. "Poison, s'pose. Weak poison...not to kill. Ach." A sigh escaped her. She shook her head, ridding it of her own self-deprecating thoughts. "Where'd ye learn stove-cooking?" she asked, changing the subject.
Emireth smiled softly. "My mom taught me a bit before she died, then my dad taught me some more. They always wanted to make sure I could take care of myself if something ever happened to them..." he sighed.
Anna was quiet a moment, then: "Ah...never knew me auld wan. Died 'fore I could rightly open me own eyes. Same for most other's, s'pose. Me da was taken prisoner n' strung up when I was just a chil'." She paused again, absently stroking her arm with her good hand. "Liam n' Siobhan died a while later. Em left for New York a few years ago, n' Seamus...well, Seamus was his da's son--Brits killed 'im 's'well." She smirked grimly, shaking her head as she watched Emireth cook. Deaths weren't exactly a rare ordeal. She'd learned to deal with being alone long before the bodies began to add up. It was just another way of living. "Guess there was never much time o' reason t'learn t'do such things well. Wifeys are for lords, gents with gold n' such. I can skin just right, boil em' in broth, but much else than that n' I'm no good." She shifted closer to him and the fire, warming her hands. "What happened t'yourn father?" she asked tentatively.
"He died when I was 15. The doctors don't know of what exactly. I believe he died of loneliness, after Mom died. She died when I was 7, and from that time till he died himself, he was never the same." Emireth said. "My mom died of cancer. She died in her sleep."
"Cancer...ah." Anna frowned, recalling the word from what little news she heard from the cities. "Bloody diseases, eh? Awful. God go wi' 'em." She made a quick motion with her hand, flicking upwards and down with a waver in between, a mild blessing. The action was ingrained in her after witnessing so many deaths herself, and it was smooth if brief and overdone. She shuffled closer again, this time to grab one of the cooked fish, not minding the heat under her fingertips as she bit carefully into it. "Mm," she murmured contentedly, "bloody fantastic, this is. Should've met earlier, then mayhaps we wouldn't've starved, eh? Heh." She stripped another piece off with her teeth, swallowing before she spoke again, and couldn't help but smirk as she did. "So, tell me 'bout your time, if that's what it is. People still starvin' in...what was it...200 years from now? Rich Brits still bein' bloody bastids?"
"Well, the world isn't doing very well... Economy is just starting to recover after a long time. The war is just starting to come to an end, and yet, things aren't getting better. The environment is crumbling... and its only getting worse." Emireth sighed. "People litter, create chaos, and destroy everything. Thats why I picked up the wrapper you tossed." he chuckled softly. "I'm a bit of a litter bug."
"War's still on. Assumin' it's not the same one." Anna smirked, shaking her head briefly at some private thought. "Must be a decent world, though. No time t'think on dyin' trees n' such where I come from. Just dyin' neighbors, mostly. Thieves n' death all 'bout...not a pretty sight. Think you'd think it hell, judging by your ways." She coughed lightly and pulled out a small canister from the leather belt, taking one large gulp from it and sighing at the familiar burn of alcohol. She grinned and tipped it towards Emireth. "Care for some? Warm ye right up."
Emireth shook his head. "No thanks. Alcohol messes me up real bad." he chuckled. He grabbed another fish and started skinning it.
Anna laughed, taking one more sip before capping it. "Ye must be the strangest man I've ever met. You can at least fire a rifle proper, I hope...?" she asked curiously, not quite able to hide a doubtful smirk.
Emireth smiled. "I can, but I won't unless I have no choice." he chuckled. "I've never been one for guns. I prefer the traditional one two." he said and punched the air on the words one and two. "And if I must... I have this." he stood up and reached into his back pocket and pulled out a small stick. He swung it out, and as he did so, the stick extended into a bo-staff.
"Ha! Bloody cane, that is," Anna commented with a grin, but knew better. She'd seen men kill with far less lethal things than this. "So you're some sorta boxer, then, eh? Not so bad at boxin' meself. Pays well when there's naught else. We should 'ave a go sometime. Always up for a challenge, y'know."
Emireth smiled. "Far more lethal then boxing, what I do." he chuckled. "More like... kick boxing... y'know, mixed martial arts."
Anna blinked at him, a little confused by the phrase. She looked displeased. "Martial arts...? War arts? Since when's war an art, eh? Murderin's not me idea of playin' fun, if'n that's what you're gettin' at."
Emireth blinked. "War?? It's not war, m'dear. It's a form of fighting."
"Mm...s'pose," Anna answered with a mild shrug, finishing the last of her fish before grabbing up another. She was quiet a while, thinking while she ate, then: "D'you believe all this? That is...believe this is some other time, n' place, n' all the rest?"
Emireth shrugged as well, putting the newely skinned fish on the fire. "Dunno. There has been talk about stuff like this happening in my time... and there is no scientific evidence that it can't happen, so I don't see why not."
Anna scoffed. "Science. Tach. Feels more like punishment t'me...some queer Hell of a sort," she muttered with a faint sigh in her voice. "Like Math ap Mathonwy punishin' me for the skirmish what killed me brother. Wouldn't be surprised. Hear talk o' spirits n' the like in the cities--Edinburgh 'specially. Suppose could happen. Just don't understand why."
Emireth laid down and stretched out. He looked over at her and grinned. "Guess we're just gonna have to find out then." A twig snapped in the trees to his right.
Anna's head jerked quickly in the direction of the sound, her gaze flittering between trees as a hand groped for the rifle and ammo that lay a few feet away. She glanced over at Emireth, not quite cocky enough to not notice the way her vision swam briefly with the movement. Whatever threat there may be, the poison that continued to course her veins hadn't let up completely. Nevertheless, she slowly eased herself down onto her belly, grasping the gun now within reach and resting it on the riverbank, waiting silently.
Emireth looked to the side where the noise came from and didn't move, except to grab his weapon out of his pocket. With a flick of his wrist low to the ground, the staff lengthened itself out, keeping to the ground.
A shadowy figure came at them from the trees, feet moving silently across the ground.
"What in hell..." Anna whispered, and cursed the fact that she'd forgotten to put out the fire. There was no way to assume there wasn't anyone settling here now. This isn't the same man o' earlier...no' even close He almost looks like he'd be one o' us, she thought, brow furrowed above dim eyes. "Oi!" she shouted, listening to the echo disappear before thinking of something to say. "Who are ye? State yourn business!" She tried to ignore the way the hair on the back of her neck stood as she tried to aim for his head and had some difficulty locating it, but nevertheless the barrel didn't waver.
Emireth glanced over at Anna quickly and blinked, then decided to sit up.
"I would just as well stay here where'n yer strange weapon canna touch me." Came an unruly, though young, voice, "Who are ye anyway an what're ye doin' on me pap's property?"
Emireth stood up. "That's what we would like to know ourselves. We really have no clue to where we are exactly, I'm afraid." he said. He retracted his weapon and put it away.
Anna's aim didn't waver, and she didn't try to stop Emireth from revealing them--if he wanted to expose himself so willingly, then so be it. He wasn't her concern. "As o' this moment, s'our property. We're settlin' here tonight. Ye'd best be on yourn way, good sah, n' leave us be, or I'll fill your face full o' lead n' powda." The threat came easily and in a strangely even tone, but the levelness of it made it all the more real. She stared at the figure, trying to make him out properly, but the shadows of the wood gave away nothing.
"Will yeh now, ladeh?" From the shadows stepped a boy, perhaps eight years of age with curly brown hair surrounding a dirty though boyishly cute face. Green eyes gazed between them, "Yeh think yer weapon scares me? Try and fill me with lead n' powda as yeh say. Me pap'll have yer hide." standing straighter now it was revealed that the left sleeve of his shirt hung ragged and empty.
Anna growled and muttered something in Gaelic, shouldering the rifle as she stood. "S'just a young lad, f'Chrissakes. Bloody hell, what is this..." she mumbled, placing her hands on her narrow hips like an angered mother. "Li'l chap, ye hungry? Ye lookin' a tad ragged there. Not good for a boy t'be wanderin' the wood alone." She scanned the trees again briefly. "Where's your ol' da, eh?"
Emireth smiled softly. "If its a problem, we'll be on our way as soon as we can. Well, at least I will be." he chuckled.
"Me pap's ill. An' don' go takin' me lightly now. I have seen me fair share o' battle." He indicated the empty sleeve of his shirt, "Yeh still haven' answered me first question. Who are yeh both? Are yeh spies or assassins? Tryin' to take out me pap while he canna defend himself?" His eyes narrowed suspiciously and glanced between the two.
The lack of an arm didn't go unnoticed, but it hardly phased Anna. She'd seen far worse in far smaller children than this one. She shifted her weight, the fingers of her scarred cloth-covered left hand curling instinctively at her side. Her right hand lifted towards the boy and held there, a motion of trust. "We're trav'lers. Just a couple folk lookin' for lodgin's for the night. Hardly know where we be, let 'lone who yourn da is." Again she glanced into the wood, not entirely certain they were alone after the early conflict. "Have a name, li'l chap?" she called. "Come by the fire 'ere. S'not right t'be left in the cold."
"Me name's Calum." The boy responded, "I must decline yer offer though, me pap needs me now teh keep this place clean o' troublemakers. If'n yer not bad fellahs yeh may be okay teh stay 'ere for the night. Don' go causin' trouble, yeh here?"
Emireth smiled. "Nope, no trouble at all." he chuckled lightly, sitting back down at the fire.
"Oi, listen a moment," Anna said, coming closer. "We'd rather not stay 'ere alone. We're a bit lost, ye see--new t'these parts, so t'speak...in a sort o' roundabout manner. Can ye offer us lodgin's? I 'ave gold," she offered with a sly but honest smile.
Calum glanced between them suspiciously, "I s'pose yeh could be put up fer the night." He said after several long minutes of deliberation, "Yeh better not be tryin' to trick me either, understand?"
Anna chuckled with a somewhat relieved smile. She didn't mind sleeping the wild much, but after their little encounter with the native that should have ended in her death, she was a little less keen on the prospect. "Now there's a good lad in ye," she said, heading back to pick up her scythe and a short slab of leftover fish, waving briefly to Emireth. "C'mon, mate, I just found us a warm bed f'the night." She grinned and returned to Calum, extending the fish in offering. "'Ave yourn pick: bite o' fishmeat or a couple shillin's. Promise we'll be on on best behaviors. I'n't that right, Em?"
Emireth got up and nodded. He shrugged his shirt over his shoulders and stomped on the fire with his good foot, then walked over with his hands in his pockets. He could feel the stone's cold surface against his knuckles.
"A little bit 'o help with mornin' chores'll be pay enough." Calum replied, "This way, then." He headed back into the brush slowly.
"Very good. Our many thanks t'ye n' yourn da," Anna said as she followed him, falling into step with Emireth. "Oi, mate," she whispered, noticing the silent way he held his hands in his pockets. "You alright? You're lookin' a tad...off."
Emireth blinked and looked up at her. "Huh.......? Oh, I'm just.... I just feel a little uneasy..." he said softly.
"'e's just a boy with a sick da," Anna answered. "Nothin' t'get all backwards about. Least we'll have a place t'sleep the night off. Might be able t'figure out what we're doin' here."
"Its not him I'm worried about." Emireth muttered. "Something's off, but I don't know what yet..."
"'old up." Calum held his hand up in emphasis as he glanced about uneasily, "Stay 'ere." He disappeared into the darkness.
Anna didn't say anything at first, watching him leave. She huffed a light sigh, adjusting the leather strap over her shoulder. "Aye...doesn't set right wi' me, either, mate, but I don't think we 'ave much of a choice. Maybe I'll get a chance t'see ye in action after all," she said quietly with a wry smirk.
Emireth sighed softly. "I hope not... I'm not usually the violent type..." he muttered. "I perfer self defense..."
The sounds of a scuffle were clearly discernable from somewhere ahead of them in the darkness.
Anna elbowed Emireth lightly in the ribs, nodding in the direction of the noises while one of her hands slid up the leather strap to the scythe. "Oi, lil chap. Ye alright o'er there, laddie?" she called in her most unassuming voice, glancing warningly to the side at Emireth to be prepared in case things got bad. She could hold her own in a fight, but her vision still swam with each turn of her head and her fingers itched and jumped when they shouldn't. She hoped he'd strike and back up his words, for both their sakes.
Emireth sighed and took out his bo-staff, making it lengthen enough. He was really hoping it wasn't something he'd have to fight.
"Doin' just fine, stay where ye are." The boy called, his voice breathless.
Back to- And so it began