Quorum of One is intended for adult readers

  Issue number: 78     May 28, 2008
Flying on a wing and a metaphor








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"It's like living in the Dark Ages when we can't use our cell phones during air travel."
-- viewer comment submitted to the BBC travel show "Fast Track" earlier this year.

Honey, I'm home!

How was the Crusade, dear?

Abominable -- I was stuck in Peasant Class all the way.

Aw, what happened? I thought you were going to barter in some of your frequent pilgrim leagues...

Oh, the king and a bunch of his inbred courtiers took up all the seats in Noble, and then a bunch of troubadours on their way to a festival in some place called Stoke-in-the-Wood filled up Guild Class, so all of us knights had to pile into the cheap and narrow seats.

Then it turns out they have these new security edicts. We had to take our sabots and gauntlets off to go through the pewter detector and they wouldn't let us bring more than 60 drams of balms or unguents on board. It took forever just to get to the drawbridge leading to the plane. By the time I finally got on board all the overhead tuns were jammed full, which means a lot of my "chivalrous" brothers were carrying on way more than the limit, which was supposed to be one broadsword, a halberd, two shields and a mace. There was a scroll right at check-in, so no way anybody didn't know.

Then there was a three-hour delay just sitting on the tarmac because our intrepid king has fear of flying and he kept commanding the crew to let him off. So his entire entourage had to deplane too, and then he'd decide he really needed to conquer the Holy Land this month so he'd issue a decree for them all to get back on, and then a fiat to get back off, and then an enjoinment to get back on, etc., etc. Drove everybody madder than a monk with a cracked Chartreuse cask. Finally he had three cabin attendants drawn and quartered and that calmed him down enough to go through with the flight, so he stayed in his seat.

Meanwhile the troubadours drank up every drop of mead in the galley and were raising hell, holding "air lute" contests and monopolizing the latrines to do lines of snuff. One of them kept mincing around the cabin wearing an inflated lifedoublet with his codpiece tucked between his legs singing "Gadzooks I Did It Again" in falsetto. It was pure purgatory.

But that's just the beginning. When we finally took off, the plane crier announced that plague had broken out in Byzantium so they rerouted us to Alexandria. By the time our connecting flight to Jerusalem landed it was 38 hours after the scheduled takeoff. And then when I went to chattels claim I found out they had lost one of my coffers -- the one with my battle mail in it. So I had to sit out the whole campaign. I spent the entire time behind the lines doing crossillumination puzzles from back issues of the inflight parchment.

And it was just as bad on the way back. I was in "last class" again, seated between a nutritionist on her way to Worms and a nerdy alchemist who bored me to death with his leaden conversation. And this flagellant sitting in the next row kept smacking me in the face every time he tried to whip himself on the back.

Oh, hey -- guess who I ran into in the Templars' lounge at Charlemagne Interempirical? Attila! He said to give you his "fondest regards". I didn't even know you knew him. What gives?

Oh, yeah -- we, ah, sort of met on his last rampage through Europe.

When was that?

July or August last year, I think. You were away on one of your Quest Keepers vigil weekends. Maybe September.

Hmm -- that's just about the time you started calling me "hon"...

Oh good sire, let's just forget your trip. The important thing is you're home in one piece. And speaking of a piece...

Ah, yeah... About that. Apparently while we were fighting the Saracens some self-styled religious activist in Wittenberg pulled some kind of subversive stunt using nails, so when I checked in for the return flight they wouldn't let us take any sharp metal implements of any kind on board. They were saying no scimitars, cutlasses, dirks, forks (whatever the deuce those are), toothpicks, augurs or awls. And since I had that Helvetian Longbowman's pocketdagger on my keychain, they made me throw it in a pit. It was only later I realized I also threw away all my keys.

All of them?

'Fraid so.

Including the one for my...

Don't remind me.

Could we get a blacksmith in, do you think?

On Whitsuntide? Even if we found one willing to work on a holiday, it'd cost at least five and thirty ducats just for the messenger.

Jeez, it's like living in the freaking Bronze Age.


Copyright 2008 by David Jaggard. 
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About the translation / traduction of Air France Madame Magazine and Nancy Li