King Arthur stood atop a large hill. Well, his name wasn't really King Arthur, it was Aelric, but some people liked to call him Arthur.
Aelric surveyed his land. Well, again, he called it his land, but that was more to do with other people saying it was his land. Aelric didn't really want the responsibility of being King, but then again there were certain fringe benefits, such as the money and various other pricey-looking items.
'King Arthur' called to Merlin, who was further down the hill. Again Merlin wasn't actually Merlin. His name was Erthgi and quite why people insisted on calling him Merlin was lost on him, but it had stuck so he went with it. 'King Arthur, can I have your attention?' enquired Erthgi.
Aelric turned around and faced his long time friend. 'Yes, Merlin?'
'That stupid pig farmer Lancelot is after Guinevere again,' said Erthgi as he reached Aelric's position.
'Who, toothless old Lancelot, with forty two successive victories in the village 'Ugly as ugly gets' competition to his name?' Aelric asked.
'The same, my Lord, though I do believe the competition was recently renamed the 'as ugly as Lancelot' championship.'
Aelric nodded knowingly. 'Merlin?'
'Yes, my Lord,' replied Erthgi as he leaned on his staff.
'Please stop calling me 'my Lord'.'
'Why my... erm King Arthur?'
'Well because you've known me most of my life and you know that my name isn't really King Arthur.'
'I know, but we've been doing this for five years now and I guess I've kind of become comfortable in the role,' replied Erthgi.
His friend sighed and turned to survey the valley below. 'It's a wonderful scene isn't it?'
'It is. But it still isn't home, is it?' said Erthgi.
'No. Whatever it was that sent us back has given us a different England to the one we knew.' Aelric stated. 'Can't complain really. Anyway how is Maria?' enquired Aelric about Erthgi's wife.
'She's expecting again.'
Aelric nodded. 'This is the third isn't it?'
'Fourth - in as many years. Well maybe even fourth and fifth. I'm sure it's the light that's attracting them,' he said indicating the red lit jewel on the top of his staff held in place by pieces of rope.
'Do you still think its safe having that thing around?' he asked, staring into the jewel.
They had found the jewel shortly after they had been dumped in freezing Tibet after an adventure they would never forget. The journey back to England had been just as fantastic and their prized jewel (which Erthgi kept safe on top of his staff) had protected them from many attackers on the way back. But lately it had been acting erratically. It had begun randomly setting fire to various items, including carts and sometimes clothes, and only the other day it created an elephant out of thin air (which was a slight shock to the people who were in the village at the time).
'I've had a priest look at it and he's had it exorcised. Hopefully that's fixed it.'
Unconvinced Aelric hmmed and looked back towards the sunlit valley in front of him.
'Erm... Arthur... I mean Aelric?' said Erthgi.
'Yes Eth...' Aelric broke off as he noticed a man had just appeared out of nowhere next to Erthgi.
The man was wearing skins that looked excessively expensive, almost silken. Aelric was jealous. Well he was supposed to be the King.
Thinking that perhaps Erthgi's unpredictable staff had pulled this strange man from somewhere Aelric was not as surprised as he should have been.
'Erm... can we help you?' Aelric enquired.
The man faced towards Aelric. He was obviously human but... well there was something just not quite right about him. He had tiny ears, a backwards slanted forehead (which was unusually large in itself), very faint eyebrows, absolutely no facial hair, very thin lip, and his skin actually had a green cast to it. He was obviously an old man, judging from the wrinkles in his skin, and had lived quite well, judging from his slightly stout physique.
'Hello,' said the new figure whose accent sounded like a mixture of French, German, and Spanish, but who spoke in English. Well in Aelric and Erthgi's version of the language. 'My name is Beiphlat. I cannot fully explain why I am here but I mean you no harm.'
Aelric crossed his arms as the man continued. 'That jewel you have on your staff was made millions of years in the future, from your perspective. I gave it to a woman who had suffered because of a mistake I made. It was meant to protect her and in her gravest hour - which I believe you were there for - she used it to save another. This man was Terry Horowitz. I believe you met him. Now I know this is a lot to take in but I need you to come with me to the future, to find the said Terry Horowitz. We need to do this because if we don't... the universe is in grave peril.'
Aelric and Erthgi looked at each other. They were in powerful positions. They each had wealth, power, and families. And this man wanted to take them away? Then again they did want to know what had happened to them and why.
Beiphlat saw their perplexed looks. 'I know you've been through a lot and feel that you just want to leave things as they are. But trust me if we don't go and sort this mess out the world that you know - or anything like it - will not exist.'
Aelric stood and thought in all his Arthurian splendour. He looked quite regal despite the fine clothes of Beiphlat next to him. 'Alright.'
Erthgi interceded. 'Are you bloody mad? I've got a family to look after!'
'Yeah, but its not every day someone asks you to save the universe is it?' replied Aelric
Ergthi was about to go again and then sighed. He knew he would eventually give in though he wasn't happy about it. 'Go on then, take us to the future,' sighed Erthgi. 'And I thought I was supposed to be the magician around here,' he added, to no one in particular.
A few moments later they were gone. But Terry Horowitz, the man they were searching for, was far from safe.