The story so far (part four summarized): Andrea is afraid of flying and babbles when she flies. Cnut kissed her to shut her up/distract her from her fear while the plane was taking off. Jasper, despite early signs, is kind of a jackass. He dressed up like John Wayne, leading to a brief, confusing moment where I thought John Wayne was a Lucipire, to tell his people that they’re going to Montana to infiltrate ISIS. Because if anyone needs to be infiltrated, it’s ISIS.
I cannot spell infiltrated right on the first try.
No menu/chapter title, but yes epigraph/chapter title: Home, home on the range…
First of all, we’re referring to Bozeman as a city. Okay, it is a city. It’s the second largest city in Montana (according to Google) with a population of 46,000. #SorryBozeman Moving on.
We talk a lot about how pretty Montana is, which I can personally confirm. I never want to live there (except I almost went to college there, hi Missoula) but Montana is really pretty. There are, apparently, no supermarkets, gas stations, or small towns north out of Bozeman. Also there are dirt roads. Which confuses me, because they head north out of Bozeman, presumably on 86, which is fully paved as far as I can tell. Maybe they turned off somewhere and didn’t tell us. I’ll update you as we go. If they update me.
Do cattle wander onto the road in Montana? Unless a fence broke somewhere, I doubt it. Cattle is hella expensive. Way too expensive for ranchers to just let their cattle wander free, especially somewhere where a trucker can make ground beef (hahahaha sorry) of your cattle.
Cnut clothing update: Jeans (denim), an open shirt (denim) over a white t-shirt, scuffed flat-heeled boots. Apparently this “fits the ranch scene perfectly.” I don’t know. Most of the rodeo guys I know didn’t wear that much denim. It was Wranglers and plaid.
Andrea clothing update—Dressed appropriately in: A plaid shirt over a t-shirt, tucked into worn, True Religion skinny jeans and a pair of “gorgeous Old Gringo ‘Razz’ boots in distressed leather with a blue embroidery design she’d bought half price for $215 at Nordstrom’s yesterday.” Oh Jesus. She also plans to wear them all winter. Does she understand that cowboy boots aren’t actually that warm?
Her t-shirt also says “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” and she bought a white cowgirl hat. So… yeah. You’re gonna fit right in.
Actually, that’s genius. She is a city girl on a… vacation? honeymoon?… I forget which. That is exactly what a city girl wears to a ranch in Montana.
“She might be thin and a mite deficient in the breast department, but she had a admirable caboose, and she knew how to work it.” May I suggest a simple replacement? “Girl’s got a booty.” (Also, Cnut is an ass-man. Who knew?)
New pun: Cnut asks her if she smells something (presumably it’s the lemons he mentioned in a previous chapter, because we know Jasper is on his way here) and she starts thinking to herself that ISIS must smell a certain way and, wait for it, he ought to tell the Navy SEALs so they can sniff them out. (Are the SEALs even the ones hunting for ISIS??)
Cnut is grumpy. Andrea is talky again. Girl, if I were in a car with you, I’d be grumpy too. This ranch has some serious fortifications, and Cnut has threatened/promised to bite her later. Also she thinks manure smells like rotten eggs. Not quite. Cnut is aware that these aren’t the same smell. Good.
Andrea legitimately just said “Holy freakin’ Ponderosa” which… wtf does that even mean?
Now she’s upset that Bonanza wasn’t filmed here. Clearly missing the fact that when you’re a ranch catering to tourists, you make your ranch look as ranchy as possible. I’m surprised there isn’t a longhorn head mounted above the door. There’s still time. We haven’t gotten there yet.
“It saddened her to think that what must have once been a family home was now turned into a dude ranch lodge. Changing economic times, she supposed.” Now, I’m no Old West expert, but what I do know is that the “family home” would have doubled as a place where all the ranch hands would eat and probably gather at the few times when they didn’t have work to do. It always would have been big and bustling. Except now, when there is nobody in the area.
Cnut told her to stay in the car. Three guesses what she did. (She didn’t stay in the car.) The man literally has a gun drawn. Is it safer to be with the man who is afraid he’s gonna get shot or hiding in the car?
Events at this ISIS ranch include: Riding lessons, Koran study, fly fishing, holy yoga, skeet shooting, meditating with Allah, roping and horse shoeing—hold the freaking phone. We will get back to this list in a moment but horse shoeing?! One of the most intimidating things you learn to do when you first learn to take care of a horse is to clean their hooves. Even the ones that will pick up their hoof for you and wait for you to take it. I was probably ten or eleven before I dared to pick up a rear hoof (perfect face-kicking position, to ten-year-old me). And this is just to pick the hooves. Not to shoe them, which requires actual training. I don’t want somebody with a weekend on a ranch anywhere near a horse with nails. Carry on—understanding jihads, line dancing, internet recruitment, campfire sing-alongs, capitalist devils, overnight trail ride, “a Sharia way of life,” a hoedown.
There are puddles of slime that Cnut identifies as… he doesn’t. Jk. He identifies the smell as sulfur. “Fire and brimstone kind of sulfur.”
People disappeared in the middle of breakfast, some Raptured away and left all their clothes in a pile. Oh, now Cnut called his brother and identified the puddles and piles of clothes as “Lucie slime and sinner harvests” which… ew.
And apparently the stove was still on, because Andrea turned it off, which makes me wonder why the “oatmeal turned to concrete and pancakes hard as hubcaps” didn’t actually burn the place down.
Aaaand now she’s starting to realize the piles of clothes belonged to people so now she’s panicking. Dear god, I don’t want this woman anywhere near an emergency.
Cue: Emergency. Huge animals are running toward them. Not cows. Maybe cows. Maybe prehistoric cows? Maybe cattle. On a cattle ranch. Mad-cow cows. Running on two legs. With fangs, claws, and red eyes. But sort of human. God this woman is an idiot. She doesn’t deserve to survive this.
(Demon vampires, Cnut informs her, before dragging her toward the front door.) And she’s upset that he’s running fast.
So here’s the thing. I—a person who doesn’t believe in vampires or demons or angels—am confronted with puddles of slime, piles of clothing, and things that look impressively like demons running toward me… I don’t think I tell the man with the gun—who is actively retreating from said demons—not to run so fast. I think I speed up a little bit in my designer jeans and boots and try not to get eaten by demons. (I don’t know if these demons eat you.)
Lore time! Cnut does have a switchblade sword. But it’s a thin sword, and to my knowledge, Viking swords are not long, thin-bladed swords. Wouldn’t you keep the weapon you were most familiar with? I mean, I suppose you can train to use any sword, but I think I’d be most comfortable with the one I grew up using. Also he has a handgun.. And now he has “big fangs” and his eyes are an “odd silver color.”
What confuses me about this is Cnut is facing toward the porch, not up the stairs. So I’m not sure how she sees either the fangs or the eyes.
Wait. (First of all, Cnut is fighting this demon thing and it cut across its chest where “two breasts burst open like melons.” I’m super grossed out. Do not like.) Anyway, now Cnut is “running his long, thin spear” through the thing. I… it was a sword two paragraphs ago. A sword is not a spear. A long, thin sword is not a long, thin spear. A spear’s shaft-to-blade ratio is weighted way more heavily in the “shaft” direction, while a sword’s hilt-to-blade ratio is weighted in the “blade” direction.
Andrea is praying. Cnut is asking Vikar for backup. And now he’s telling her he’s a vangel. But he doesn’t have time to explain, cause they’re locked in a room waiting for the cavalry. She also is planning to shoot Cnut, because he’s got fangs and weird eyes. Even though he just saved her. If a bear saves me from a bunch of wolves, and the wolves are still out there trying to kill me, I’m not going to shoot the bear just because it could also eat me.
I’m so excited! Teletransporting time! (He still smells like mint.)
He literally just said “hold tight, baby.” It might be a little too soon in your relationship to be calling her “baby.”
So we… teletransported back in time? Same room, same bed (which she’s laying in, having fallen unconscious), different decorations. Oil lantern. So the back in time transport was an oops. They used to do this all the time, but apparently they got “stationed permanently” in the 21st century. Whatever that means.
Oh. My. God. So Andrea jumps him, demands that he undo whatever he did. And so then he (on reflex? on accident? how do you accidentally do this?) teletransports them to Norway (Sweden? Finland?). I’m confused. The first one I get. An oops because “oh shit we’re about to die.” Was this a boner transport? Because that’s gonna make sex hella awkward.
We finally got a date! 850 AD!
Although how he knows its exactly 850 AD when he transported them about 150 years into the past in the first go, I’m not sure.
Epigraph: Back to the future, in reverse…
Can we stop with the ellipses? I love a good ellipses as much as the next person but I don’t think we need all these.
Cnut suspects this was Michael’s fault. Andrea is following him and hitting him and calling him things like a nincompoop, which if someone transports me to “the Norselands” in the 850s, I’m gonna be choosing stronger words than nincompoop and moron. I also don’t say things like “holy Ponderosa” (anyone who has seen my Facebook feed knows I prefer things like “motherfucker” and “Jesus fucking Christ”).
He’s not sure he can get them back, and lists all the things he likes about the 21st century—every other one is food related. Restaurants, good and plentiful food and alcohol, doughnuts (cream-filled), and (these three in a row) cheeseburgers, bottled beer, and delivery pizza. Now Andrea smells like iced coconut. I think probably she’s slowly freezing to death in Norway in the 850s AD in a t-shirt, cowboy boots, and designer skinny jeans.
Andrea can’t tell the difference between bears and three men in furs because it’s winter. So… I’m not sure we have any hope for her. Cnut should probably shove her in the river and let her drown. But now we know this takes place at around the same time as the prologue, because the three bears/people ask (in English, apparently) if they were responsible for killing one of Cnut’s horses, which was mentioned in the prologue. Also, Cnut is, like, starving like the old days.
Also, here’s the historical aside I know you’ve all been waiting for: He keeps referring to a motte. Which, unless motte was used for other things, I think is meant to refer to a motte and bailey castle.
If I’d known this was going to be used as a representation of a motte and bailey castle, I would have gotten a better angle—tbh, I think I was taking a picture of the pillory and the castle just happened to be in the background. This is a picture of Cardiff Castle in, surprise, surprise, Cardiff, Wales. The motte is the raised mound the castle is built on, and a bailey would be built around the base of the motte for further defense. Sourcey sourcey source.
Now, quick Googling has shown me that Vikings built ring fortresses, like Trelleborg, which may have been built by Harald Bluetooth (literally, this is the guy who gave us the word Bluetooth and the symbol that we all look for at the top of our phones when for some ungodly reason the car will. not. recognize. that. you’re. just. trying. to. play. your. podcasts. while. you. drive. Is that just me? That might just be me.)
Now, motte and bailey castles are largely dated to after the Battle of Hastings (1066, as we discussed in a previous chapter where I couldn’t figure out the date of the prologue) and the Vikings/Normans (at this point) may have picked up motte and bailey castle building from the French. But not in 850 AD.
Returning to the story.
Either teletransporting allows Andrea to speak Old Norse, or these Vikings really, legitimately speak a language that wouldn’t develop until after Shakespeare.
We’ve returned a month after the events in the prologue. His other horse has been killed (so not the one I thought had already died), people are starving, and everyone is excited the jarl is back, Andrea keeps saying “jar” even though my limited knowledge of Old Norse (influenced by the J-vs-Y debate that still rages in northern Minnesota with Scandinavian last names) tells me it should be pronounced more like “yarl.”
Everyone is assailing Cnut with problems that have arisen since he’s been missing. Now Cnut is taking offense at how everything smells and is setting people to cleaning. And he’s setting Andrea to cooking, because high-quality French kitchens translate exactly to Viking kitchens.
Explanation (?). Andrea asks, “Everyone’s speech is so strange here, and yet I can understand.”
Cnut: “No trick. Old Norse and Saxon English were similar enough in this time period [were they? I’m no linguist, but… were they?] that we could understand each other, somewhat, enough to get by. On the other hand, you probably shouldn’t be able to make any sense of medieval English.”
Then, after that answer, he introduces her to everyone as Andrea of Philadelphia, their new mistress. And kisses her.
Oh Jesus Christ.
“Even while he was kissing her, and she was too stunned to smack him, he heard someone in the hall ask, ‘What is that strange smell?’
“‘I don’t know, but I like it,’ another person replied.
“He did, too.
“It was coconut and peppermint.”
I’m just… I’m just gonna end with that. Coconut and peppermint.