Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings, nor to I own the SCA as a whole. Credit goes to Tolkien and relevant others.
Summary: People from the 21st Century drop into Middle-Earth and despite total inexperience, fit right in and are thrilled to be there. Not this time.
It is generally taken as fact that anyone who willingly and enthusiastically participates in Historical Re-enactments is at least a little off in the head.
Some of the aforementioned Re-enactment participants take offense at this view.
Those in the Barony of Rowany, in the Kingdom of Lochac (otherwise known as the greater Sydney area, NSW, Australia), particularly the Collages of St Ursula and St Augustine, take a very great deal of pride in being seen as total whack-jobs. Even the more level-headed will smile, look smug, and thank the observer who has just called them a complete nutcase.
Still, there is madness, and there is madness. Natasha (better known as Mairi of Kilravok) and Rowan had the sinking feeling that they had just crossed the line.
There was really no other explanation for why they had been talking at fighter practice/A & S one moment, and on a grassy hill in the middle of nowhere the next. It also didn't explain the presence of two random strangers that they both knew hadn't been with them before, but one of whom looked suspiciously like the ringleader to the small group that had parked themselves outside the Town Hall where fighter practice was being held.
The other one had blonde hair that was making an impressive effort at outshining the sunlight, eyes bluer than a clear summer sky, and a supermodel's figure. If she hadn't been desperately trying to fool herself into thinking that this was just an elaborate hallucination, Mairi would have thought it was a textbook cliché of a Mary-Sue yanking people into whatever fandom they lurked in.
Mairi, who had been seated and whose chair had not made the transition with them, fell rather ungraciously on her behind, dropping her sewing as Rowan looked around. He reached down to help her up, and both caught sight of the newcomers at the same time. Rowan forgot that you needed to keep a grip on someone to help them up. Mairi sent them both an evil look as she fell down again.
The stall at the University Fete two weeks ago had been interrupted by a few of the more dedicated members of the Christian Youth Group, who had carefully asked just what kind of 'singing, dancing, crafts, workshops and demonstrations' took place at the annual Festivals and Assorted Events. Myfanvy, who had been dressed as a Roman Priestess of Hecate, hadn't totally understood the question, and said that it varied depending on the theme. Jess, who had only heard part of the explanation, joined in, explaining that it was mostly concentrated on the Dark Ages to Renaissance and Tudor times, but often dipped into other time periods, such as Viking and Ancient empires as well.
Mairi wasn't entirely sure how the Youth Group had reached their conclusion, especially as the Renaissance and Dark Ages were periods where Church influence had been strongest, but they had somehow got the idea that the SCA was a cover for some evil pagan cult that was trying to take the world back into the sin of the Dark Ages. They had been trying to stage protests outside regular meeting places ever since.
If nothing else, Mairi had to give them credit for persistence, even if she did think that standing outside for three hours in the middle of a winter night marked them as even stupider than she had originally thought.
The first stranger looked around, gave a vaguely amusing (and somewhat girlish, for a guy probably in his twenties) shriek, and went into hysterics. "What happened? We were supposed to be sending the demons you lot were worshiping back to The Abyss with the exorcism ritual our newest member provided! How did we wind up here?"
Rowan, who had stepped forward in a token effort to calm them down, stopped abruptly. "I know Jess called us Hell-spawn when the soccer ball nearly knocked over the paints for her Illumination project during the warm-up kick-around, but that hardly calls for an exorcism." He paused for a moment, "And what ritual?"
Despite the circumstances, Mairi had to fight down a totally inappropriate sense of amusement. "You remember the Christian Youth Group at the stall a few weeks back? I think he's one of them."
Rowan frowned. "You mean the ones who got hauled off by Campus Security when they started shouting about demon worship and the New Age guys got upset? One of them called you a harlot when Benjamin said that posting a pretty girl in costume at the front of the stall was a good marketing strategy?"
That had been the first time anyone had called Mairi a 'pretty girl', and she still maintained that the crowd had more to do with the fact that one of the people manning the stall was also filling in at the animal farm, and the children and female half of the campus had flooded in to coo over and pet the kid in her arms. Which, in turn, prompted the people with them to start exploring the stall just for something to do while they waited for their companions. "Yeah, those ones. I think he's with them."
The stranger picked this as a good time to jump in. "David tried to say that you were just a bunch or D&D freaks and we should just let you go back to Lord of the Rings or whatever, but no one ever listens to him."
Raised with the knowledge that her youngest sister did enough swearing for all three siblings, and having worked as a Nanny once or twice (kids really did repeat everything they heard), Mairi almost never cursed. Jess, another SCA member, had a vast repertoire of Hungarian insults, and did not share Mairi's reluctance. Mairi had picked up several, even if she had no idea what they actually meant, and right now, she was barely stopping herself from using them to turn the air blue.
Rowan preferred more modern, action-inclined fantasy, but remembered the bare basics of Tolkien's works from a lively debate a few weeks back. Mairi decided that she preferred the 'Going Totally Mad' theory from before. Fan fiction was a guilty pleasure of hers, and she had read plenty of '21st Century Person Falls Into Middle Earth' stories, usually feeling quite sorry for the protagonist. Now, not only was she supposedly in Arda, but it looked like she was going to be accompanied by a religious geek and a Mary-Sue of the 'Bloody Annoying' sort, and she was counting the minutes before she had a nervous breakdown.
He fears were confirmed when the woman laughed prettily and spoke. "I know that. I'm Suzi-Maria, and it was a perfect opportunity for me to bring friends with me into Middle-Earth, so I sort of interfered with the ritual and brought you here."
The nervous breakdown was quickly taking second-seat to the desire to strangle the girl. Well, no use complaining about it until it happened. "Since it looks like we're going to be stuck together, I'm Mairi of Kilravok and he's Rowan, of the Collage of St Augustine, or UNSW. Call me anything else and I'll ignore you."
The stranger huffed, somehow managing to make it seem righteously indignant. "I'm Sam, and don't act like you want to be friends! Just undo whatever you did and take me home."
If the chances of surviving alone were even slightly higher, Mairi would have told him exactly where to shove his superior attitude. For now, however, she should probably just tolerate it until they found somewhere populated.
Right, good points and bad points: on the good hand, there had been a garbed picnic earlier that day, and a 13th century travelling dress would blend in a lot better than jeans and a t-shirt. Similarly, Rowan was in leather armour, and had been holding his sword and shield while they were talking. Granted, both were made of wood, but SCA weapons were identical to their medieval counterparts in weight and force of impact (just without the sharp or pointy bits), and so at least one of them was armed.
Finally, Mairi had a foot looped through the strap of her waterproof backpack, containing three books (Mairi had never gone anywhere without at least one book since she was old enough to have her own library card), a notebook, her wallet, keys and a large Ziploc bag of oatcakes left over from the picnic. She wasn't the best of cooks, but at least they had something edible, if slightly bland. Oatcakes had started out as a staple food for soldiers on long marches, though, so the lack of flavouring was hardly her fault.
Also, she had been at work before the picnic, and when you had to catch public transport from the suburbs to the city at five-thirty in the morning, it was much easier to just eat breakfast on the way, keep a comb and a spare toothbrush with you, and duck into a bathroom before reporting to the boss (Mairi knew for a fact that she wasn't the only one, and that most of her co-workers wore beat-up old sneakers to work, discreetly changing shoes when they arrived). Anyone on the train at the time was too busy trying to wake up to care if a fellow passenger was a bit rumpled, and it offered an extra ten minutes of sleep.
She wasn't sure where having her Arts and Sciences bag, filled with wool, needles, embroidery thread, and a pair of scissors, in her lap and therefore brought with her, fell, but at least she would have something to do.
On the downside, no-one had a change of clothes, or anything resembling outdoor-sleeping gear, and unless Sam had a map and compass on him (unlikely) they were still lost. Oh, and Mairi really, really hoped that her doctor had been serious when he said that she had probably outgrown the need for medication to keep her epilepsy under control.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of hoof-beats, and she sent up a most-likely-futile prayer for it to be someone non-hostile.
Non-hostile was probably a matter of opinion, but at least the group of dwarves didn't seem likely to hack them to pieces without provocation.
Provocation that Sam were sure to give them, if someone didn't get in something polite first. "Greetings, my Lord Dwarves. I am Mairi of Kilravok, at your service. I apologize in advance."
The pre-emptive apology took them slightly by surprise, but the Dwarves recovered quickly, with a small bow to return the greeting. At least, that was what she thought, since she didn't understand a word of what they were saying. She had forgotten that Middle-Earth spoke Westron, rather than English.
Lovely, now they could add 'Serious Communication Issues' to the list of problems.
Getting back at annoying siblings who called you a 'total geek in stuff that isn't even useful' can be an excellent motivation, which was why Natasha was coherent in writing Dwarvish runes. Needing a fictional dictionary to translate Natasha's next three letters hadn't changed her youngest sister's mind, (her twin found it amusing, but tiresome) but it had at least convinced her to shut up about it.
The quick explanation of 'Greetings. Lost. Come from far away.' written with a stick in the dirt wasn't exactly the best opening, but it served the purpose. Mairi really hoped that Rowan, who was good with languages, could pick something of Westron up fast.
The Dwarves exchanged looks, before the leader responded in the same fashion. "I am Gloin, son of Groin, at your service. Who are you?"
The Dwarves from the Lonely Mountain did not understand English, but the general context of 'Oh, shit' is almost universally understood. The lack of Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins, and that they were a company of only five Dwarves, rather than thirteen, suggested that they were not in The Hobbit, but likely just before the council of Elrond. If they didn't find a way home, and fast, someone was almost certainly going to get hurt.
Mairi would have replied, had Sam not opened his mouth and proved her precaution a wise one. Luckily, the Dwarves didn't understand him, either. "Why are you talking to those little men, and what are they saying? Is this more of your devilry?"
Mairi ignored him. This was worse than the time a bunch of Religious door-to-door recruiters had somehow mistaken a friend staying overnight for two women living in sin and disturbed half the street with their ranting. She curtsied again, pressing a hand to her chest. "Mairi of Kilravok," she indicated Rowan, "Rowan", and pointed at the final members in turn, "Sam and Suzi."
The fact that the Dwarve at Gloin's side was his son, Gimli, strengthened the probability of when they were. Rowan, after Mairi had translated the gist of it into English, was about to ask her to write if there was any chance of travelling together, when Gimli said it first, suggesting that if Elrond was unable to help them, then Gandalf would probably visit Rivendell at some point soon, and they could ask him. At the least, they could leave Sam with the elves to enjoy each other's' superior attitude.
Ah, yes, it was sometimes easy to forget the rivalry between elves and dwarves. A Rivendell elf had made a joke about one of the company's beards in The Hobbit, hadn't they? Suddenly, she felt sorry for the elves. Sweeping a foot through her previous writing to make room for more, she wrote "Thank you. I'm very grateful for your assistence."
Gloin bowed politely, and led them down the hill, toward a forest. Rowan threatened to gag Sam with one of his own socks if he didn't shut up and stop complaining, and the three humans (and one Mary-Sue, whose species was probably some unbelievably bizzare combination that would cause a headache she would endure later) followed them, all with the same sinking feeling.
A/N: OK, this is just an idea, and may or may not be continued, depending on the response. It will be updated slower than my other stories, but if you like it, be patient. To any Christian, New Age or otherwise religious group: I am not trying to insult you. The events mentioned in this chapter actually did happen in real life. Everyone has a right to their own opinions.